Local bus service is now free for students enrolled in credit courses at Naugatuck Valley Community College’s Danbury Campus. NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., students, faculty and staff joined Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and officials from HARTransit (Housatonic Area Regional Transit) and CityCenter Danbury on Oct. 1 to celebrate the new benefit with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and inaugural bus ride.
The U-Pass program, which has been a resounding success at NVCC’s main campus in Waterbury, comes to Danbury as the College prepares to move into a larger space in the city. U-Passes are now valid for unlimited rides across the HARTransit system.
“Community colleges are about access—life-transforming access for many. If we believe in equality of opportunity, bus service is one of the many small ways we put that belief into practice,” said President De Filippis. “Mass transit and public transportation are a part of the fabric of life in democratic societies.”
Margaux Milau was among the first students to sign up for a U-Pass in Danbury. “I don’t like the snow or driving in the snow, so it will help out.” Milau said it will give her father peace of mind, knowing that she’ll leave the driving to the professionals when the roads get slick.
The U-Pass program is funded by students through a $10 per-semester transportation fee, which students imposed on themselves by an overwhelming margin at a referendum in 2011. During the 2014-15 academic year, NVCC’s Student Government Association voted to extend that benefit to the Danbury Campus.
“Congratulations to everybody here at Naugatuck,” said Mayor Boughton. “Thank you for being a risk-taker and saying ‘I’m not done with my education; I want to expand myself; I want to improve myself.’ The bottom line is you are taking the next step,” he told students.
“We’re very excited to start the U-Pass service,” said HARTransit CEO Eric Bergstraesser. “It’s obviously a win-win situation for all of us. We have increased enrollment that hopefully translates into increased ridership and, more importantly, new riders. We want to introduce new riders into the system, which is a major goal.”
Students enrolled in credit classes at NVCC’s main campus in Waterbury have enjoyed unlimited local bus service for four years. The College, in partnership with the City of Waterbury and the City’s legislative delegation in Hartford, was instrumental in restoring evening bus service to the community in 2011.
U-Passes are available to students in the Administrative Offices of NVCC’s Danbury Campus. In Waterbury, U-Passes are available at the Cashier’s Office in Kinney Hall.
NVCC’s Danbury Campus, currently located at 183 Main Street, is poised to relocate to a 20,000-square-foot facility at 190 Main Street, more than tripling its footprint in the city. Classes at the new location are scheduled to begin in January 2016.