Spring and Summer U-Pass may be coming to the U of C

By Ashad Mukadam

University of Calgary students taking courses in the Spring and Summer might soon be able to take the bus or C-Train as easily as the rest of the year.

The U of C, the Students’ Union and Calgary Transit are currently negotiating the expansion of the U-Pass program to include Spring and Summer semesters once the current contract expires this August. After the deal is concluded, a student referendum will be held for final approval for expanding the program in the winter of 2011. If approved, the Spring/Summer U-Pass could be implemented by Spring 2011.

Currently the undergraduate U-Pass is only available at the U of C for full-time students (three or more courses) in each of the Fall and Winter semesters, at a cost of $85 per semester. But no U-Pass through the summer months means undergraduate students must pay $2.75 for each trip or $85.25 for a monthly pass during the Spring and Summer sessions.

Graduate students have had the Spring/Summer U-Pass since May 2005, at a cost of $85 per four-month session, in addition to the Fall and Winter passes that all U of C students have had since Fall 2002.

Other schools that have implemented the Spring and Summer U-Pass for undergraduates include the University of British Columbia and SAIT.

“We are still finalizing the negotiations, but they should be done in the next month,” said Voula Cocolakis, associate vice-provost of student services for the University of Calgary.

The process began in January 2009 when then-Students’ Union VP external Alastair MacKinnon was approached by Parking Services and the Sustainability Centre to consider the expansion of the U-Pass due to the expiring contract. Various students also approached the Students’ Union wanting the program expanded.

“Because the contract doesn’t expire until August 2010, it gives us more than a year to hold a referendum or a plebiscite,” said Kay She, current VP external for the SU. “It allows us to determine if students want it or not, and we can work with the university to find out what the target survey will be.”

While details are presently being worked out, it is expected that students will need be registered for two classes during the Spring and Summer sessions to qualify. The cost is also expected to be the same as that paid for the Fall and Winter U-Pass.

“There are many benefits that students can expect from having a U-Pass in the Spring and Summer, as that is when transit is more greatly utilized,” said She. “They can reduce their environmental impact, save money on gas, parking, maintenance — and travel time depending on where you live.”

Transit ridership could also be affected through such a U-Pass.

“At the very least, I would expect it to stay the same, though I would not be surprised if it increased,” said She.

Similar to the Fall/Winter U-Pass there will be no opt-out program in place.

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