Photo: Hana Nikčević

Proposed model “essentially” same as one rejected by students in 2008

In December 2017, the TTC voted in favour of moving forward with a U-Pass that allows students to use public transit at a lower and fixed cost. This U-Pass would theoretically come into effect in September 2018. However, it does not yet have the necessary student approval. If approved, the U-Pass would be administered using the PRESTO fare card.

The cost of the pass would be included in student fees collected by the university, without the option to opt out. UTSU policies require a referendum to approve the change in student fees.

Pricing for the U-Pass has yet to be announced. The mandatory opt-in clause is designed to keep the cost as low as possible while ensuring that the TTC maintains a “net-neutral financial position,” according to the TTC’s staff report.

The U-Pass would be available during academic semesters, and will include fare-integrating solutions with York Region Transit and Brampton Transit.

The proposed model is similar in structure to the one that post-secondary campuses in Toronto voted on in March 2008. Ultimately, it was voted down by students. The main objection documented was that the fee was mandatory, but not all students felt that they made use of public transit often enough for the pass to benefit them. A U-Pass was launched at UTM in 2007 with the cost included in their student fees.

In 2008, the proposed cost of the U-Pass was $720 a year, which worked out to $60 a month for transit. This was 60% of the then-cost for student transit passes.

Stuart Green, Senior Communications Specialist in the TTC’S Media Relations and Issues Management in the CEO’s office, says that “the final U-Pass report including structure will be coming to the board shortly and expected to be in place for sept [sic].” In terms of differences between the model rejected in 2008 and the current proposal, “essentially the concepts are the same.”

The TTC staff report states that “A U-Pass makes transportation more affordable for post-secondary students and could potentially unlock additional economic, educational and cultural opportunities.”

In order for the TTC to implement the U-Pass, at least either UofT St. George, York University, or Ryerson must adopt the system. Their large campus populations reportedly “mitigate financial risk to the TTC.”

Between January and November 2017, the TTC sold 704,881 Post-Secondary Metropasses. The monthly average of sales was 64,080.