UMSU board approves universal transit contract

Price set at $200 per term for next four years

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The U-Pass will return to the U of M this fall at $200 per term.

UMSU’s board of directors voted March 26 to approve the newly increased U-Pass rate recently passed in the City of Winnipeg’s multi-year budget for four years.

Currently, students pay $136.25 per term for the U-Pass. Council initially approved the new rate at $160.75 per term and students voted in favour of the increased rate in a referendum.

After a lengthy battle between the city, students and other advocates after the U-Pass was not included in the preliminary budget, the inclusion of the U-Pass was approved in the final budget.

Even at $200 per term, the U-Pass remains the cheapest Winnipeg Transit option for students.

The post-secondary pass offered by Winnipeg Transit comes at a cost of $81.65 per month — $126.60 more expensive than the U-Pass per term — and the U-Pass will be approximately $85 cheaper than the low-income rate being introduced this month.

Not all students would qualify for the low-income rate. Despite its restrictive parameters, it was an option city council touted as the solution to the cancellation of the U-Pass proposed in an early draft of the city’s budget.

The board chose not to put another referendum to the student body, instead deciding to unilaterally approve the increase without student input.

Sanderson called the U-Pass’s inclusion in the city’s budget a “major positive” despite the unprecedented increase in cost.

Sanderson said improvements to the terms of the contract were in the works, including “expanded opt-outs” for students who live in areas with little to no reasonable access to public transit.

All opt-out options in the current contract will continue to exist, possibly with one addition.

“Everyone outside the transit service area, not just outside the city limits [being eligible to opt-out] — that would be something new that would be a positive.”

“There’s a certain designated amount of metres from a bus stop where if it’s unreasonable that you could walk to a bus stop, then you’re considered outside the transit service area,” added Sanderson.

“Now, if those people [who reside outside of the transit service area] wish to maintain their U-Pass […] and don’t want to pay for a parking pass and they simply want to drive up somewhere close to the U of M then do park and ride […] they are absolutely still U-Pass eligible.”