The University of Toronto Students’ Union is in the final stages of collecting data needed to move forward for the implementation of a transit U-Pass at the St. George campus.
The campaign for the pass, termed “U-Commute,” is a collaboration between multiple student groups including the Ryerson Student Union, Student Association of George Brown College, and the OCAD Student Union. The partnership aims to come to an agreement with the TTC and GO transit systems to offer their respective student populations unlimited rides per person at a more affordable rate than the alternative monthly Metropass.
UTSU’s vice-president external, Anne Boucher, did not confirm details about whether the U-Commute would encompass any transit systems from around the GTA in an email to The Medium.
A survey aimed at gathering information about student transit habits, as well as opinions about the proposed pass, was launched at the end of August by the UTSU . It has since received over fifteen thousand responses, according to Boucher. Initial consultations with community members and other sponsors have already taken place.
Negotiations with transport authorities will be scheduled once data gathering is complete. If a mutually acceptable price point can be decided upon between the TTC and GO transit companies as well as the collaborating universities, students will then approve or deny the offer by voting in a referendum.
“If the referendum passes, students would see the fee in their tuition as an ancillary fee,” stated Boucher. The pass is expected to cost the same across all represented students.
Boucher was unable to confirm if an “opting out” option will be provided to students. “We’ll do our best, but this will be a tough sell,” she said.
As previously reported by The Medium on September 11th, the current UTMSU president, Salma Fakhry, stated that her team has been in discussion with Metrolinx to achieve a GTA-wide U-Pass for UTM students.
“We’ve been in talks with MiWay and Brampton Transit to expand routes and develop a larger need of expanded transit services,” stated Fahkry in an email to The Medium. “We have already met with Metrolinx and have gotten aboard the following student unions to begin our work ahead: York Federation of Students, Continuing Education Students’ at Ryerson, Association of Part Time Students at U of T, Graduate Students Union at U of T, Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, and are building more partnerships with neighbouring colleges.”
“Our desire is to think bigger because there are students who commute from outside,” continued Fakhry. “Only focusing on TTC is short-sighted and not a solution that would help commuter communities. Provincial funding will be a necessary step to improve transit affordability and thinking for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton communities, this is the only logical step.”
Boucher did not provide an estimate of when the referendum would be taking place.