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photo by Sean Campbell

Students experience problems picking up U-Pass

GETTING A U-PASS was a challenge for U of O students this year, with some waiting in line for hours to get the card. Distribution continued almost two weeks into September due to technical issues faced by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

“We had technical difficulties printing the cards and got our tech guy to work on it,” said Elizabeth Kessler, vp university affairs of the SFUO.

Although she couldn’t provide more details on what the specific issue was, Kessler asserted that steps have been taken to solve the issue. However, there were multiple consequences to the problems experienced, such as long, time-consuming lineups.

“I’ve spent my whole day only for this and it has cost me a part of my research. I lost a meeting with my professor and my other colleagues,” said Muhammad Abid, a third-year PhD student in computer science.

The OC Transpo was forced to take action to relieve some of the pressure on students who needed transportation.

“Because of the problems, we had a backlog. In order to deal with [it], we got temporary passes from OC Transpo and gave those out to students,” explained Kessler. “We sent emails to all students who had their picture taken [saying] they could pick up a temporary pass.”

“In light of the issues that there were over the past two weeks, OC Transpo has been trying to support [the SFUO] as much as we could by issuing temporary cards … and then extending the period for which those cards were valid,” said Vincent Patterson, manager of performance and quality management at OC Transpo.

Though distribution of the U-Pass is the SFUO’s responsibility, OC Transpo helped the federation deal with delays.

“Our role is to support the student associations who are responsible for managing the U-Pass program at the university. They are responsible for producing the cards and distributing them,” Patterson said.

The passes were supposed to be active as of the first of September, but most students received their pass after that date. Some paid for their own transportation to school, unaware of the temporary pass extension—costs incurred on top of the $290 for the U-Pass.

“I was surprised and appalled when I found out that our student cards could be used as temporary university passes,” said third-year health sciences student Michael Fonseca. “I had been buying bus tickets during the first week of the semester because the ridiculously long wait times for the new U-Pass did not fit into my school schedule. The university made very little effort to effectively inform students of this temporary solution.”

The SFUO did not provide details on how the U-Pass will be handled next year. Kessler said she would first like to focus on this year’s distribution.

—Christopher Radojewski