Why are graduate students not extended the privilege of unlimited TCAT bus rides?

Date: June 2021


Dear Deans,

It has recently come to my attention that all Cornell employees and retirees have unlimited riding privileges on all TCAT buses in Tompkins County. We have a new postdoc transitioning into the lab, and my lab manager informed them that bussing to campus would not be a huge issue since the bus fare is free for all staff. 

When looking at the previous announcement made on this matter, it says here that “University employees (including affiliates, retirees, and temporary employees with a CU ID card) can board TCAT buses anywhere in Tompkins County, seven days a week, with their CU ID card. This privilege allows employees more flexibility in planning their commute, and can help reduce the number of vehicles on campus.” 

Why are graduate students not extended this privilege? We also could benefit from “more flexibility in planning [our] commute”, especially in light of more research activities occurring on campus. It was really upsetting for me to learn that graduate students are not offered this flexibility and must budget into our own stipend to pay for bus fare, but faculty and staff do not have to. It is especially frustrating for me to be faced with the reality that many faculty in my department do not use the bus to commute to campus, but many of my peers fully rely on this form of transportation. 


A Frustrated Bus-Faring Graduate Student


Dear Frustrated Bus-Faring Graduate Student:

Thank you so much for your question. 

Cornell does provide all new students, including graduate and professional students, unlimited TCAT privileges for the first year of their studies. After the first year, Cornell provides a substantial subsidy for students to purchase an OmniRide pass for unlimited TCAT privileges. Throughout their time at Cornell, students can ride TCAT for free after 6:00 pm on weekdays and all weekend long. Please feel free to contact Helen Steh, the customer services manager at Transportation Services; she and her team assist the Cornell community in determining their best options for commuting. Helen can be reached at hs21@cornell.edu, and the team can be reached at 255-4600. 

You are correct that there are different TCAT programs in place for students, faculty, and staff. In my years at Cornell, commuting options, such as parking and bus services, routinely come up as a point of discussion for all members of our community. If you would like to talk about this issue in more detail, I am happy to meet with you, you can reach out to the GPSA or to Transportation Services in Facilities and Campus Services. 

Thanks for submitting your question.


Kathryn J. Boor
Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education