It's expensive to ride Calgary Transit. $2.75 is a hefty fee for a single train ride and $94 is an equally hefty fee for a monthly transit pass -- especially for students. In the last few weeks, evading fares has become a difficult task for transit users. With peace officers seemingly more diligent since the beginning of May, the only choices have become paying the transit fare or paying the $150 fine for jumping fare.
Since 2002, full-time students at the University of Calgary receive a UPass for the fall and winter semesters for a relatively small fee. Students need to ride transit only 10 times a month in order to benefit from the $110 four month transit pass, but they can't opt out of the fee.
This year, the U of C expanded the initiative and began offering a one-session spring/summer UPass.
There is, however, a major difference with the new UPass session: it spans two semesters. Students who are full-time -- taking two or more classes in either semester -- will receive a UPass. This leaves students who are taking one course per semester vying for transit change.
While there should be an option for part-time students to receive a transit pass, the qualifications for receiving the spring/summer pass are skewed. It is more reasonable for students who will be travelling to school for four months to receive the pass, than those who might only be around for one semester. If the UPass session spans two semesters, then eligibility should also span two semesters. Some students could be paying $266 more for transit over the spring and summer than peers who are taking the same number of classes.
Offering students a UPass in the spring/summer is a good first step, but there are still many problems -- a better system needs to be put in place. Although many other universities don't have the option for a spring/summer transit pass, some of them offer part-time students a UPass, including the University of Alberta. With the price of gas, parking and tuition skyrocketing, more students should have the opportunity of cheap transportation.
Offering a UPass helps increase the quality of student life at the U of C, but there are some major changes that need to be made in order for students to fully benefit.