U-Pass deal means transit price hikes for students

Provincial aid never covered TransLink susbsidy for extra bus service: Corrigan

Student associations are using graphics like this to encourage students to approve a small increase in U-Pass fees

Post-secondary students across Metro Vancouver will vote early next year in referenda to increase transit U-Pass rates and renew the compulsory pass program for three years.

If approved, the monthly cost of the universal transit passes for students will rise from $30 to $35 next May and climb to $38 by the summer of 2016.

An extra $10 is charged for Kwantlen Polytechnic University students in Richmond, Surrey and Langley to cover an inter-campus shuttle as well as other benefits.

Student associations at UBC, SFU and other institutions are now urging students to approve the change, arguing U-Pass is still a good deal despite the price hike.

“The alternative is to purchase a much more expensive regular adult pass and those fares have increased as well,” said Arzo Ansary, a Kwantlen Student Association spokesperson.

She noted regular adult monthly transit passes will cost $91 for one zone as of Jan. 1 ($124 for two zones; $170 for three zones.)

“I think we have a pretty high chance of our referendum passing successfully.”

U-Passes are mandatory and the cost is built into fees students pay – even those who drive to classes and don’t take transit can’t opt out to save money.

A majority vote will rule whether each institution stays in the U-Pass system or drops out.

U-Passes were extended beyond UBC and SFU a few years ago when the provincial government mandated a province-wide U-Pass system extending to other institutions.

Under the renewal agreement, the provincial government will continue to provide TransLink aid for bus service to help meet the demand from U-Pass holders.

But Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the money from the province has never been enough for TransLink to break even on its U-Pass obligations.

“Other transit users and property owners subsidize the provincial government’s announcements that they’re providing cheaper transit rates for students,” he said.

U-Pass fans say the system has fostered a new generation of transit users, reducing road traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

But because not all students use their U-Passes, many end up on the black market and Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan said officers continue to battle fraudulent sales and unauthorized use.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” she said. “As they’re taken off a [free classifieds] site, more pop up.”

Charges are expected soon against a repeat offender, she said.

TransLink switched to issuing U-Passes monthly, instead of for a whole term, to help curb reselling, but Drennan said that hasn’t had a huge effect.

Starting later in 2013, U-Passes will be built into TransLink’s new Compass smart card system.

Just Posted

Looking Back: The tie that binds

CP Rail’s growth took off in 1914, when double tracking of the line through the area was completed.

Twin trees topple on to Maple Ridge home

Roof though mostly intact on house in Fern Crescent area

On Cooking: Setting the mood, and table at home

Your thoughtfulness is the most meaningful ingredient.

Untrending: More wisdom from the inbox

‘The death of long-form writing.’

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read