By Erin Rankin
A University of Toronto cash grab nearly jeopardized Ryerson’s Metropass deal with the TTC.
U of T’s student council was violating the agreement that allows it, Ryerson and York University to sell discounted passes because the council was adding a $1 service charge to the $87 pass.
The surcharge was meant to help pay for the cost of selling the passes, including staff salaries and bank fees.
As a result of the violation, U of T Student Council President Ashley Morton and RyeSAC Vice President of Finance and Services Mike Verticchio both received a letter from the TTC that reminded them that adding a surcharge was breaking the guidelines of the agreement.
Verticchio said he was already aware of the stipulation and did not understand why the U of T council thought it was OK to make extra money off the passes.
“The TTC has always been up-front about the issue of surcharges,” Verticchio said. “We were told pointblank before signing the agreement last August that we weren’t allowed to do this.”
Morton said the U of T student council will stop charging the extra dollar, but was surprised by the letter.
“They say we can’t do it — so we won’t do it,” said Morton. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”
The big deal is that U of T’s violation could have voided the universities’ TTC agreement and may have hurt renegotiations for extending the deal when the pilot program is reviewed by city council at the end of August.
“It is a test program — if [U of T doesn’t] want to participate because it costs too much for them then they don’t have to participate,” said Marilyn Bolton, a TTC spokesperson.
The current agreement enables universities and other lareg organizations to buy Metropasses in bulk and sell them at a discount.
The U of T student council office sells more than 9,000 discount passes a month. If the surcharge had been continued, the student council would have generated approximately $60,000 this year.
“We simply didn’t foresee how much it would cost to sell this pass,” Morton said. “We’re spending $3,000 a month [in administration fees].”
RyeSAC sells between 3,000 and 4,000 Metropasses every month. Verticchio estimates the discount will save Ryerson students $250,000 by year’s end and was confident the TTC deal will continue next year.
“We’re 99 per cent we’ll be re-signing the agreement in August,” Verticchio said.