UTM students express concern over Ontario’s recent One Fare program
The UTM Urbanism club met with the City of Mississauga to discuss where transit services can better improve the experiences of students.

After the recent announcement of Ontario’s One Fare program, students at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) have expressed their frustration with the program’s oversight to include the U-Pass, a service that grants UTM students with unlimited fare-free rides on transit busses throughout the City of Mississauga. 

On February 26, Ontario introduced its new One Fare program to enable transit users to pay once when riding transit throughout MiWay, TTC, Brampton Transit, and Go Transit. 

However, the One Fare program only works with a physical PRESTO card, so UTM students who use a U-Pass through PRESTO E-Tickets cannot take advantage of this program.

The Medium spoke with UTM students to get a better understanding of how this issue has impacted them. Vijay Nandal, a sixth-year student completing a double major in math and computer science, stated, “The lack of U-Pass transferring between MiWay and Brampton Transit on my commute home makes using the U-Pass pointless.”

According to Nandal, the oversight to incorporate the U-Pass does not consider students who travel outside of Mississauga. “It only benefits a small subset of UTM students who exclusively travel through Mississauga. Considering how many of us commute, it should be changed to accommodate the many UTM students who don’t see a benefit from it as it stands.”

Because users cannot use their U-Pass to transfer across cities, UTM students aiming for longer commutes outside Mississauga cannot benefit from the One Fare Program.

UTM Urbanism, a club at the university, has used its platform to advocate for the integration of the U-Pass for students on campus. The club recently met with the Mississauga Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) to express these concerns to City staff. 

UTM Urbanism told The Medium, “We hope that this success means that positive change is on the way and that students will soon be receiving the service quality they deserve as tuition payers and as taxpayers.”

“With this meeting, we wanted to get UTM’s concerns on the official public record. We also wanted to push transit staff to state officially that they will work on improving the glitchy digital U-Pass system, and that they will give UTM students a better deal this June when our U-Pass agreement is renegotiated with the UTM Student Union,” stated the club. “We’re happy to say that these two goals were achieved during the meeting itself, and it’s all on the record.”

In their meeting, UTM Urbanism confirmed that without the integration of the U-Pass, students who are not participating in the One Fare program are missing out on an average of C$1,600 in yearly savings. 

“Students are also forced to pay for the U-Pass in tuition, so it’s their right to have a product on par with McMaster [University], we deserve to get our money’s worth,” UTM Urbanism said. 

The club also brought up other concerns that stem from missing out on the One Fare program. “For example, some international students will need to buy new phones since the PRESTO eTickets app is locked out of some regions. In addition, students need an internet connection to load the app, and screenshots of their eTicket don’t reliably work. Thus, students who cannot afford a mobile data plan are locked out of a service they are forced to pay for.” 

During the meeting, UTM Urbanism also aired out concerns regarding student dissatisfaction regarding MiWay services, including issues of buses being delayed. “We asked city staff to buy more long busses, improve frequency, and make route transfers more reliable, especially along routes 26 and 44.” 

UTM Urbanism signed off with a call to join its club for students who may be interested. “We encourage anyone who thinks cities are pretty cool, [joining] is free and all are welcome!”

The promise of integrating U-Passes into PRESTO cards by late 2025, as the City mentioned during their meeting with UTM Urbanism, would be a step forward for UTM students made possible through the efforts of UTM Urbanism and the voice of UTM commuters.


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