Sunday, January 21, 2007

Issue of the Day: U-Pass

Image from Wikipedia

So, as most readers know, we have a U-Pass. Students pay $22/month, and can't opt out unless they live outside Translink. In return, we get a pass good for Transit all over the lower mainland. The fee used to be $20/month, but we voted overwhelmingly in favor of raising it by $2/month two years ago, on the promise that it'd be the last raise for the duration of the contract.

Most schools (including colleges) don't have a U-Pass. Those that do, pay more than UBC. Every school wants one. But they don't want to pay more than UBC does. So they formed the "U-Pass Coalition" which is arguing for a universal U-Pass for all Universities and Colleges, at the same price. AMS Council agreed to join the coalition.

The nub of the issue is that all schools want a U-Pass, at UBC's rate. However, it's unlikely that Translink will lower the rate to UBC's; what's far more likely is that UBC's rate will have to go up in order to support a Universal U-Pass. So the basic question: are you in favor of paying a few more dollars a month in order to facilitate a U-Pass for all Vancouver-area colleges?

  • A universal U-Pass could mean better service to UBC (and others) through more bus service generally
  • Transit use reduces emissions, develops community-wide sustainable transportation
  • The U-Pass Coalition is an example of all the provincial schools uniting for a single cause
  • Ensures a viable U-Pass at UBC
  • UBC could be paying more for so other schools get the U-Pass
  • We've already had to pay more once, and raise fees from their initial amount
  • Transit/province/UBC should be paying for improvements, not students
We asked the candidates for VP External what they thought (Tom Masterson two didn't answer our questionnaire):

Joel Koczwarski: I support the universal U-Pass for all university and college students. It would further reduce emissions, serve as an equilizer between schools and would hopefully help bring students closer to inter-school cooperation.

Matthew Naylor: I am only willing to see our fees increase if we are able to see a proportionate increase in service. If I were to be elected to the VPX portfolio, I would lobby with the U-Pass coalition, but my first priority would be to the student of UBC. As such, I have mixed feelings about expanding the U-Pass and the U-Pass Coalition as a whole.

Chris Brush: I would like to see the U-Pass continue in its current form. (Taken from his write-up; he didn't answer the question in our questionnaire.)
What do you think? Is an expansion of the U-Pass program something that UBC students should pay a few extra dollars a month for?