City committee sets January 2015 date for U-pass
A city committee has endorsed an amendment to the 2014 budget that would get the universal transit pass for post-secondary students, better known as the U-pass, back on track.
The infrastructure renewal and public works committee held a special meeting on the preliminary 2014 budget on Monday, during which several students and councillors spoke in favour of the U-pass program.
Both student associations at the universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba held votes where a majority approved paying a maximum of $200 and $180 respectively for the September-to-April pass as part of their university fees.
These supporters had been hoping the program would start in September of 2014, however, that date has been pushed back to January of 2015.
Rorie Mcleod Arnould, vice president of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, said the U-pass would be an investment for the future, so waiting a few extra months isn’t a huge concern.
“The U-pass program is a long-term investment in not only our post-secondary education system in Winnipeg, but our transit system in Winnipeg,” said Arnould after the meeting.
“If we can get this done at the proposed term in January, then that would make me very happy.”
The students still face an uphill battle, since both Dave Wardrop, director of Winnipeg Transit, and Coun. Russ Wyatt, who chairs the finance committee and attended Monday’s meeting, said a proposed semester pass is the better option.
This semester pass, which will likely be over $200, would come into effect when the Transit system moves to the smartcard model.
“I met with the students earlier this year as well, prior to the budget being released,” said Wyatt, who has encouraged the students to find dollars from sponsors.
“The challenge we have is right now we as a city do provide below the national average post-secondary transit fares … our fares are very economical, very competitive.”
Wyatt said as a municipal government, the city is not prepared to subsidize post-secondary education and “that’s what this would be.”