Ryerson misses the bus on transit savings proposal

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By Nadia Chiesa

A new proposal to drop the cost of student transit passes won’t work at Ryerson, says RyeSAC president Darren Cooney.

The proposal, which was presented by University of Toronto students last Wednesday at a transit committee meeting, calls for the cost of student discounts to be split equally between the TTC, universities and students.

“They totally took the initiative and created a proposal without the input or assistance of any other school in Toronto,” said Cooney. “They’re [proposing] a pass structure as a template that no other school is willing or able to replicate.”

Mike Foderick, the chair of U of T’s Post-Secondary Metropass Task Force, estimates it would cost about $450,000 a year to offer a discount to students at his school.

To pay for that, he is eyeing the money that TTC will save next year when there will be only four years of high school students instead of the current five.

With fewer students around to qualify for discounts, Foderick estimates the TTC will save between $300,000 and $500,000 a year.

RyeSAC aren’t sure how much it would cost to offer a discount to Ryerson students.

“the proposal is hard to access because there are no numbers available,” said Andrew Noble, RyeSAC’s student advocacy co-ordinator. “We can speculate the values of the one-third proposal based on U of T’s figures, but even if Ryerson’s administration is willing to pay, which is not clear but unlikely, we don’t know how much to ask for.”

If the TTC accept the U of T proposal, it could create problem’s for Ryerson’s proposal, Cooney said.

“If the U of T proposal is approved … it could mean big problems for Ryerson,” he said. “Other post secondary institutions in Toronto won’t be able to afford a donation from the administration and perhaps not be able to afford a levy from the students.”

If Ryerson cannot negotiate a discount plan, Noble said there are still options to pursue. Ryerson can continue to lobby at the City Council and the transit commission or can try to join U of T’s plan through a student levy.

“Ryerson can wait and see how this plays out politically,” said Noble. “Depending on how the dust settles, Ryerson students can return in a few years and how U of T, the richest university in Toronto, is getting the most money from the TTC.”

With an adult Metropass now costing $93.50 a month, Toronto university students are left paying more for transit passes than most other students in the country. A recently proposed fare increase could see the cost of a pass climb to almost $100.

The transit systems in many of Canada’s major cities offer significant discounts to full-time students attending post-secondary institutions.

Montreal’s transit system offers a student pass for only $25 a month with the annual purchase of a student I.D. card for $8.75. In Ottawa, students travelling on public transit pay less than $60 a month.

The U of T proposal received mixed support from members of the transit committee.

“The idea to use the savings from the double cohort is realistic,” said coun. David Miller, “but my concern is that we need to treat all university and college students, as well as young people who are working, equally.”

The committee put off voting on the proposal until Nov. 20, giving them more tie to research it.

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