The TTC will begin consultations for a transit pass for Toronto-based university students later this month. The TTC announced in mid-December that they planned to move forward with a student pass program called “U-Commute” proposed by several post-secondary student unions including Ryerson, OCAD, U of T St. George, and George Brown College.
“U-Commute” is an initiative that hopes to institute a transit pass specifically for students studying within Toronto. A plan for the structure and execution of the pass is being drafted by employees at the TTC, which was presented at the scheduled board meeting on December 11th.
According to the project proposal released by the TTC, “Transportation costs can make up a significant portion of a post-secondary student’s budget. Consider the case of a student that commutes to a post-secondary campus in downtown Toronto: the average 8-month tuition and incidental fees are approximately $8,000 per year plus an additional $930 in Post-Secondary Metropasses for 8 months. Transportation accounts for 10% of the student’s budget. Reducing this cost will help the more than 60% of the post-secondary students that use the TTC.”
The report adds that such a transit pass would increase ridership for the TTC as more students would opt to use the expanded transit pass.
Pricing for the pass has not yet been determined but is expected to be a compromise between all the negotiating parties, although the TTC project proposal specifies that any price should be “formulated to keep the TTC in a net neutral financial position” and “calculated based on one blended rate for all institutions, so that the product is offered at a single price to all participating post-secondary institutions.”
“It has to be a price we’re both happy with. We can suggest one price, while they can suggest another,” stated UTSU’s vice president external Anne Boucher, “Still, we’re keeping our students’ budgets in consideration, and students can rest assured that we would not accept anything that would hurt us students.”
Any additional fees occurring after the pass is implemented will be included as supplementary fees only after a referendum of the St. George student body approves of such a motion Boucher stated.
The transit pass itself will be incorporated within commonly issued PRESTO cards, instead of as a separate card.
According to the TTC’s proposal and report on the project, “A multi-year agreement is required with each post-secondary institution. The U-Pass can be provided on a per semester basis, all year-round (i.e. September to December, January to April and May to August).”
Although the TTC has rejected any prospects of an overall opt-out option, the UTSU will be looking into providing some form of a choice for students who do not wish to obtain a transit pass, according to Boucher.
The latest TTC report does not provide an estimated timeline of when this new pass would be implemented for students.
A representative for the TTC was unable to respond to The Medium as of press time.