Universal or useless, you decide

By James Keller

Students are so disillusioned with the Students’ Union that most probably won’t bother voting this week. But, student politics aside, there is one very good reason to log on to polling stations for this year’s general election.

On the ballots (or computer screens as the case may be) is a question that will effectively add $100 to your SU fees for an entire year of study. In return, you will receive unlimited use of public transit for the fall and winter terms-students at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology already have this.

First, there are immediate benefits to students who already use transit. Something that would cost around $200 a semester before will now cost a quarter of that. You’ll be riding high for much cheaper and all will be well with your universe.

Just as it did with SAIT students, the U-Pass will encourage some people to take the train or bus instead of their cars, or even park at an LRT station rather than on campus. Right away, you’ve got free parking if you want it which, compared to hundreds of dollars for a parking pass, is quite a steal. Alternatively, you can buy a pass at McMahon Stadium for $50 per semester and take the train one stop down the line. That’s still cheaper than a pass on campus.

Then we have those students who, despite these benefits, will continue to drive to school and park on campus. Available parking will increase as transit use increases and traffic around campus decreases. These benefits are not monetary, but still positive. More parking spaces and more available passes are valuable things-especially since plans are in the works to at the very least cut the size of Lot 10.

Others point out that transit doesn’t serve all areas of Calgary or outlying areas. To these people, I hope you were reading above. Not only will your commute be met with more parking and an easier ride into campus, but you too can park off campus and take the train in.

It’s true, a lot of people see problems with the idea of charging every single student for something that less than half of students will use. They call it a "tax" and a "social welfare program." Well it is-the whole of a group is supporting a minority. But people don’t realize that everyone has an opportunity to benefit from this. Whether you take the bus, drive or even ride your bike, you can find positives in what is more than just a $100 tax.

So, if you take the bus or get here some other way, the U-Pass will benefit you. Remember, if your car breaks down and you don’t already have a bus pass, you can vote from the comfort of your own home. That way, next time you’ll be here in no time.

Feedback on this article can be sent to opinions@gauntlet.ucalgary.ca.

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