Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Clock Ticking on Mandatory U-Pass - The Eyeopener

This week's edition of Ryerson's weekly independent newspaper brings news that the Ryerson Student Union has 7 months to act on the TTC's offer of a $60 U-Pass. The U-Pass program would see each student receive a TTC metropass every month, with the reduced rate of $60 a month included in their tuition. This would be a savings of almost $40 over the current student discount, and a savings of $20 over the average amount a Ryerson student spends on the TTC each month. However, the program isn't without its faults.

The entire student body would have to participate, as the non-users would subsidize those who use their passes. While this may not sit well with non-transit users, it is a sacrifice that should be made for the greater good. Making transit more accessible, especially for students, is not only a noble cause, but it serves to introduce them to transit at a time when they are forming lifelong habits. In addition, experiences in British Columbia have seen ridership increases of 10% or greater under similar programs. In my view, it is clear that the positive effects on transit ridership far outweigh the small financial inconvenience of the less than 30% who do not use the TTC as their main mode of transportation.

Also, the pass may not be transferable, and there is no indication how this program will change when Presto is fully implemented on the TTC (which I suspect will be much sooner than Presto literature indicates). While this is one detail that I would like to see ironed out, the U-Pass program is better than nothing in the interim.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone and Mayor David Miller will be on campus on January 17th in order to gauge student reactions to the proposal, but I am certain that they will find near-universal support.. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if most students question why the Ryerson Student Union hasn't already taken the deal.

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At 1/16/2008 10:59 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a heads up, Messrs. Miller, Giambrone, and Mihevc presented at a U-Pass "town hall" meeting at U of T on Monday evening. Turnout was low, especially considering the enormous size of the student body (but not a surprise), and those who were in attendance were largely against the proposal. While a number of students commented that they live close to campus specifically to avoid paying for TTC (about 25% of UT students walk or bike to school), and that the mandatory $480/yr fee represented a month's rent and was thus unaffordable. Others simply made use of the open mic to vent their frustration at what one opinionated student called a "pseudo-communist redistribution of wealth" (to vigorous applause).

At 1/16/2008 11:10 p.m. , Blogger Andrae Griffith said...

I heard how it went at U of T, but I honestly believe that it stands a much larger chance at Ryerson than it does at U of T. Ryerson has a much smaller residence population and has a much higher commuter population.

If the referendum fails at either school, I think it will fail because it won't reach the required voter turnout. Not because people oppose it.


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