After an extensive survey, the University of Manitoba Student’s Union (UMSU) has decided to veto the idea of having a universal bus pass for the University of Manitoba as problems with the system far outweigh the benefits.
The universal bus pass would have been a transit pass that is integrated with students’ tuition at the beginning of every year, which transforms a student I.D. into a bus pass for any participating student.
According to Sid Rashid, UMSU president, after reviewing numbers from a survey done through the months of March and April of 2009, the students’ union feels that a U-pass should not be implemented until there is support from either the provincial government or the U of M.
The U-pass and Winnipeg Transit survey was performed by UMSU for the purpose of discovering whether or not students at the University of Manitoba would benefit from the service.
In total, 2,054 unique and valid surveys were collected, adding up to roughly eight per cent of the student body.
Out of the surveys collected, the results said that 70.4 per cent take the bus, 19.5 per cent drive alone, 19.2 per cent carpool, 13.9 per cent walk and 8.5 per cent cycle.
According to the survey “Most students were in favor of a U-pass, but at a price point lower than [Winnipeg Transit] has been willing to offer it at the past.”
Another reason why UMSU held off on the idea of a U-pass is because there was still a large group of students who felt the bus was not the most convenient form of transportation.
The survey indicated that 1,309 of the respondents who answered rode the bus 2 or less times a week and had a number of reasons including the length of the bus trip, car pooling as more convenient, transit fares too expensive and not enough bus routes.
Ken Allen of Winnipeg Transit said, “This is an issue that comes up every year, the possibility of the U-pass. What’s happened this year in March is Transit met with UMSU and provided updated fee estimates for the U-pass. They were given to UMSU for their consideration and our understanding is UMSU is considering their options. It’s up to UMSU what they are going to do with those estimates and survey results.”
UMSU also provided students with an option to provide their opinion on Winnipeg Transit and then published some of the better responses anonymously in the survey results.
One student replied, “It smells. Load 50 U of M students on a bus and imagine the cologne, perfume and cheap body spray given off, Transit should encourage people to be scent free.”
A number of students also complained about the lack of later transit service, saying they would use the system more for late night excursions such as trips to the bar or parties. Some students also complained that weekend transit services are lacking, saying working late and catching a bus is not an option.
Other quotes that stood out to UMSU were, “It is awful! Need more consistent transportation. Direct shuttle routes would be beneficial,” and “More room for luggage, Art students have a lot of crap to carry.”
UMSU said that the current decision to wait on the U-pass is not a permanent decision. The executive summary of the survey indicated things could change in the future.
“Rising tuition costs, and increasingly harsh economy for students and their employment, and increasing appetite for environmentally-conscious lifestyles will all factor into the ongoing position of the student body towards a U-pass,” said the executive summary.
University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta all have U-passes implemented while a number of other universities across the country such as Ryerson and the University of Toronto are still trying to implement them.