Rethinking the U-Pass
WHAT IS IT with the U-Pass? Since its inception in September 2010, it has endured an impressive amount of complaints from students and OC Transpo staff alike.
First it was the pricing, then the lack of an opt-out option, and now the $70 price increase. Is it time to rethink the program altogether, or do we just need something to complain about?
For such a young program, the U-Pass is not that bad. Even with the recently proposed price hike, the U-Pass saves students money. Students with cars have the chance to help the environment by taking the bus, while those who bike or walk don’t have to freeze in the winter.
The problem is that issues other than pricing are not being addressed. The only proposed change to the program is the $70 increase, which ignores other concerns students have with the U-Pass. For example, college and part-time students are still excluded from the program, limiting accessibility and ridership. It’s also extremely hard for students currently enrolled in the program to opt-out if they can’t or don’t use the bus.
Both Carleton and University of Ottawa students will vote in a referendum this spring on whether to continue their enrolment in the U-Pass program. I will check off “no” on my ballot. The U-Pass program isn’t bad, but it needs to be more inclusive and versatile. If students are to put hard-earned money into the U-Pass annually, it has to attend to the concerns of students.
Only 64 per cent of U of O voters were in favour of the U-Pass in the original referendum in spring 2009, but with the recently proposed changes, some are unsure whether the program has enough appeal for students. If the city really wants to improve the U-Pass, they should do a call for suggestions, organize discussion, and rethink what this project is meant to do for both the city and the students in it. Providing affordable and environmentally friendly transportation is important, but so is accommodating its users.