Stu­dents push­ing for tran­sit deal

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - FRONT PAGE -

Toronto stu­dents are band­ing to­gether for a re­newed at­tempt at a bet­ter deal on tran­sit.

Stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Univer­sity of Toronto, Ry­er­son Univer­sity, OCAD Univer­sity and Ge­orge Brown Col­lege have launched a cam­paign for the in­tro­duc­tion of a univer­sal pass (U-Pass). Al­ready com­mon prac­tice in many Cana­dian cities, the U-Pass gives stu­dents un­lim­ited ac­cess to tran­sit. The min­i­mal cost is cov­ered through their stu­dent fees.

The TTC al­ready gives post-sec­ondary stu­dents a $30 dis­count on a monthly Metropass, which means it costs a Toronto stu­dent $116.75 a month. In com­par­i­son, a U-Pass for Ot­tawa tran­sit costs $202.46 per term (roughly six months). In Bri­tish Columbia, the cost is $41 per month.

“The cur­rent TTC dis­count is not ac­ces­si­ble or af­ford­able to ev­ery­day stu­dents,” said Anne Boucher, the U of T stu­dent union’s vice-pres­i­dent of ex­ter­nal af­fairs and one of the cam­paign lead­ers. She ex­plained that many stu­dents in Toronto turn to other means of trans­porta­tion, in­clud­ing lengthy slogs on foot.

“By hav­ing a U-Pass, now you’re in­cor­po­rat­ing an en­tire stu­dent body, al­low­ing ev­ery­one to use tran­sit,” she said. “It’s kind of like taxes, with ev­ery­one pool­ing in to­gether and help­ing bring the price down.”

A TTC spokesper­son said the agency is aware of the cam­paign, but any de­ci­sion about a new pass would have to go be­fore the board for ap­proval.

It’s not the first at­tempt at a univer­sal pass. Back in 2008, stu­dents from all over the GTA tried to ne­go­ti­ate a com­mon dis­count but failed to get sup­port. Boucher said it was a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” which is why the cur­rent cam­paign fo­cuses only on the down­town core.

The cam­paign has launched a sur­vey to col­lect data on stu­dents’ tran­sit habits. Each par­tic­i­pat­ing school will also have to con­duct a ref­er­en­dum on the in­ci­den­tal fee each stu­dent would have to pay for the U-Pass deal.

Stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives are al­ready meet­ing with tran­sit ad­vo­cates for ad­vice on the project and will ap­proach the TTC and Metrolinx once the sur­vey data is avail­able.

Boucher said a U-Pass deal is a win for both stu­dents and the city.

“All those part-time jobs avail­able in the sub­urbs, all those rental places a lit­tle too far, they’ll now be ac­ces­si­ble,” she said. “The U-Pass just opens a lot of doors for peo­ple.” the U of T stu­dent union’s vice-pres­i­dent of ex­ter­nal af­fairs, is one of the peo­ple lead­ing the cam­paign for the in­tro­duc­tion of a U-Pass.

Ed­Uardo Lima/mETro

anne Boucher,

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