By Peter Stein
With the current U-Pass deal set to expire at the end of April, Students’ Union Vice-President Operations and Finance Gavin Preston presented a motion to renew the U-Pass for the next three years, into the 2006-07 school year.
If the referendum passes, the U-Pass will remain a mandatory fee, increasing by $2 per year from $60 in 2004-05 to $64 in 2006-07. If the majority of students vote no, then the U-Pass program will be discontinued for undergraduates.
This referendum presents issues which will upset some regardless of the outcome. The main problem stems from the fact for students who use public transit on a regular basis, the U-Pass is a valuable commodity, while students who drive or walk to school often consider the fee unnecessary.
The "No" Campaign Manager Oliver Bladek explained the U-Pass is becoming more of a burden on students than a relief with the rerouting of buses to Dalhousie Station and problematic bus times.
"My campaign feels more students are hurt by [the U-Pass] than those who are not," said Bladek. "But, regardless if you use it or not, the deal isn’t good enough."
Ron Collins, Calgary Transit Communications Director, insists the U-Pass remains important for students.
"The U-Pass provides important financial benefits to a lot of students, as well as an important environmental benefit," explained Collins. "If you make three trips a week either by bus or train, you can pay the cost off."
Collins also pointed out the U-Pass fee at the University of Calgary is the lowest of all the institutions which currently have a U-Pass. He explained the U-Pass’ price is based on an initial market share and from there the price is negotiated between Calgary Transit and the institution. In comparison, sAIT pays $70 a semester and Bow Valley College $80 per semester.
ACAD recently voted to adopt a U-Pass as well, with a unanimous vote in their student elections.