The University of Kansas Transportation Services, in partnership with Student Senate and the Academic Achievement Access Center, is launching a pilot program providing transportation for students from Counseling and Psychological Services to the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and back.
The transportation for the spring pilot program will be provided by JayLift, a service from the AAAC currently available for students with permanent or temporary injuries who cannot easily access the regular bus routes.
Providing transportation from CAPS to Bert Nash was one of the platforms Crimson+Blue ran on during the 2019 Student Senate Elections. Implementing the pilot program became a project that Student Senate Policy and Development Director Isabella Southwick has worked on since May 2019.
“I’m really looking forward to providing students with affordable and accessible transit to their mental health appointments in the community,” Southwick said. “Mental health is a real priority of this administration, with the increase to the CAPS fee, so I think this is a nice partner to that.”
Senate’s Finance Committee approved a $7.50 increase for CAPS for the fiscal year 2020-2021 fee package Sunday, Feb. 9. The bill will go through Full Senate Wednesday, Feb. 12.
The transportation service is only available for students with weekly standing appointments and not for crisis or initial intake appointments, Southwick said.
To use the service, students must mail, hand-deliver or fax appointment confirmation documentation to Student Access Services within the AAAC, according to an email sent Feb. 6 to students from Transportation Services. An SAS advisor will then contact the student with details on how to access transportation.
Southwick said the pilot program will be a quicker way to get to Bert Nash, as currently a student would have to take three buses. In addition, she said Senate expects the international student population in particular, or any students without a car, to benefit from the pilot program.
“For someone that is going weekly for a mental health appointment, first of all, they are not going to want to be spending half their day on public transit to get there and back, but second of all, if you’re in a vulnerable and emotional state, busing yourself around the entire city might not be ideal,” Southwick said.
The service will be available this semester, according to an email from Transportation Services. Because the transportation will be a part of current JayLift services, no additional funding will be allotted for the service, said Aaron Quisenberry, associate director of Transportation Services. However, Quisenberry said this could change depending on student demand, which will be evaluated at the end of the spring semester.
“In general, [we will] see what the demand’s going to be with this pilot program and then we’ll reevaluate at the beginning of the spring semester,” Quisenberry said. “If it explodes and more rides are anticipated than what we may be thinking and additional funding may need to happen in the future, we’ll look at that.”