Taking students for a ride

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By Deborah Gardner

Nobody can ride the rocket for $60 a month.

That’s what Mel Lastman — megacity mayor candidate — says about his opponent Barbara Hall’s proposal for a discount university student Metropass.

“No politician in their right mind would ever agree to go along with (Hall’s proposal),” said Lastman at a news conference near Downsview subway station Monday.

“They’d have to reduce senior and student passes by $13 because they’re paying $13 more now so it’s a matter of playing catch-up.”

Hall proposed an eight-month pass which could be used by university students from Monday to Friday for $60 a month — $23 less than a regular adult pass. High school student and senior citizen passes are currently $73.

“I’d love to find the money to come up with a reduced rate pass for university students, that includes high school students and seniors as well,” said Lastman. “But I’m not prepared to promise and I’m not going to enter a bidding war.”

Hall responded Tuesday: “I find it strange that (Lastman) said last week that the plan doesn’t go far enough, but this week it’s a joke. What will he be saying next week.”

But Lastman admitted Monday he was working son a plan for a university student pass that would give students the same $10 discount as high school students and seniors. He refused to comment on how it would be financed.

A TTC report issued last week stated Hall’s proposal is extended to high school students and seniors, as Lastman wants, it could cost the TTC up to $8 million.

Students who met with Lastman after the news conference said they like the idea of a cheaper Metropass but were also concerned about jobs.

“Lastman addressed the high youth unemployment rate in the Toronto area, which he blamed on high business taxes.”

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