Students should be able to vote for new ancillary fee-funded U-Passes
Students shouldn’t have to pay for transit out of pocket.
Many Canadian cities with large post-secondary student population have agreed on this matter, including Toronto with their U-Pass program.
Ryerson students, who voted for the U-Pass in a referendum will have their U-Pass funded through mandatory ancillary fees, this will continue under the Student Choice Initiative, according to Rebecca Bozzato, communications advisor for the ministry of training, colleges, and universities.
“Our government believes that all students should have ready access to college and university campuses,” said Bozzato. “Existing mandatory transit passes will remain so under the Student Choice Initiative.”
With the new changes to ancillary fees by the Student Choice Initiative, however, it might be too late for GBC students to hold a referendum on a U-Pass now.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has not catered to its large student population the way other cities have in the past, but has made steps with the heavily reduced-price of $70 per month U-Pass program compared to the current $116.75 students are paying at George Brown College (GBC) right now.“When I was at Dalhousie University, they had it included in tuition. It’s a lot more convenient, and then you don’t have to think about it every month to have to pay an extra fee,” said Carolena Charles, an architectural technology student. Transit passes can benefit countless students who can’t afford to live on campus, commute to a job, or live with family during their studies.
Toronto is way more expensive to live in when compared to London or Kingston, too.
Despite the fact that GBC is an institution famous for its downtown location, and that it only established a student residence a couple years ago, we do not have the same system in place as Ryerson, another downtown-located institution.
“Because the cost of living is so high, the least that the government can do is give us free transportation,” said Mohammad Shaacad, a general arts and science student.
Shaacad said that a transit pass covered by his ancillary fees would take a load off his monthly expenses and help with his daily commutes.
Most students need to work to afford their studies.
To afford a downtown flat near the college that’s also within biking distance from your job is a literal fantasy in this rental market, so a transit pass is essential to getting to and from work and school.
Succeeding, scratch that. Surviving as a student in Toronto can be hard. After paying rent that is almost 50 per cent of what I make, it’s hard to budget for groceries, let alone another $116.75 a month to get to school.
The TTC lost $61 million in 2018 due to fare evasion, but that doesn’t surprise me. I know why people evade fares. We also have a transit system that lost $3.4 million in revenue due to malfunctioning equipment last year.
Frequently malfunctioning gates and card readers at subway stations make fare evasion incredibly tempting to almost any broke student who needs to make a short trip of two or three stops on a streetcar.
A U-Pass would improve student life by eliminating the hassle of buying a new pass each month, along with the financial stress of having to pay such hefty fares just to get to class.