Contract renewal to either be approved by students or rejected
By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
From January 28-30 polling stations in the New Westminster concourse and David Lam atrium will open for students to approve the new U-Pass contract in a referendum which will set the price for Douglas College and other major Metro Vancouver area post-secondary students’ use of TransLink services until 2016.
The proposal includes the new pricing for the U-Pass, which will increase by about four per cent each year. From May 2013 to April 2014 the monthly charge will be $35, May 2014 to April 2015 will be $36.75, and from May 2015 to April 2016 the price will be $38. At the current price point, students are paying only 20 per cent of the price for three-zone access compared to adult pass holders who pay $170 monthly.
“Student Associations recognize that no one likes fee increases and that is why we have worked together like never before to lobby TransLink and the government to keep the U-Pass BC program affordable for students. We are continuing to working very closely throughout the referendums to make sure students are as informed as possible,” said Jill Griffin, co-chair for the U-Pass advisory committee.
The 2010 referendum which brought the U-Pass to Douglas College was approved by 94 per cent of students who participated in the ballot casting.
“In September 2011, British Columbia was the first province to offer a universal and comprehensive transit program for all students attending publicly funded post-secondary institutions,” said a press release by the U-Pass BC campaign team. “Since the implementation of U-Pass BC, students have enjoyed affordable and sustainable modes of transportation, where all three travel zones are included in the cost of U-Pass BC. The renewal of U-Pass BC will continue to foster a new generation of transit users, where fewer people will be driving, which will result in less traffic congestion and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
This fall, the dispensable cards will also be replaced with the incoming electronic fare payment method, the Compass. Exact details of how the U-Pass will work as a Compass card are yet to be released but it is known that the monthly pass pickups will be unnecessary, as the Compass cards will be valid for five years and will work at a standard adult fare payment method after the user is ineligible for U-Pass access.