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By Alison Northcott

The TTC is looking to make a deal with the Ryerson Students’ Union to introduce a mandatory universal Metropass for students.

The deal would be good news for TTC users, who could end up saving more than $30 a month. But for students who don’t use transit, it would be an extra fee for something they don’t use. “There would be no opt-out option,” said RSU’s Vice-President Education Nora Loreto.

This means students who do not use the TTC would also have to pay the fee. The transit commission is on campus this week, conducting market research into Ryerson students’ transit use. The purpose of the research, said Michael Anders, Market Research Director for the TTC, will help the commission develop a proposed plan that would add the cost of a discounted TTC monthly Metropass to students’ annual ancillary fees.

The proposal would go to a referendum, to allow students to decide whether or not to accept the deal. Loreto said she, “supports the best deal possible for students”, however, she said she is not sure this deal meets that standard. “(The TTC is) trying to push us in a direction that we don’t really want to go,” Loreto said. “They are asking for $60 from every single student for every single month.” Over the course of the school year, this would add up to almost $500. Anders would not confirm this amount, but said the cost “is not an insignificant fee.” If implemented, the program would help the TTC increase ridership.

Ryerson has more than 20,000 undergraduate students. With mandatory passes in place, the commission would be guaranteed the sale of 20,000 passes. And that’s just at Ryerson. The program is also being pitched to seven other schools in the GTA including, U of T, OCAD, Seneca and Centennial. “We certainly support any programs that increase ridership,” Anders said. “We’re trying to put options on the table that are best for the TTC and best for post-secondary students.”

Anders said he thinks students will support the plan, which he hopes will be in place by September 2006. Amir Immar, a second-year Industrial Engineering student who does not use the TTC, said he would support a mandatory universal Metropass because if it would help his fellow students who do use transit. “If it helps other people,” he said.

“I know some people can’t afford to live near the university.” But Nik Trutiak, a third-year Aerospace Engineering student, said a mandatory Metropass “doesn’t make sense.” Trutiak uses the TTC every day to get to campus from Kipling station. “I think people should be able to opt out,” he said.

“You shouldn’t have to pay for something you’re not going to use. If you live on campus, what’s the point? That is 100 per cent ridiculous.”

Amira Shabason lives in Pitman Hall and rarely uses the TTC. If a referendum were held, the first-year retail management student said she would vote against a mandatory pass. “People shouldn’t be told how to transport.” The reason the universal Metropass would be mandatory, Anders explained, is because this makes the passes cheaper. “You’re spreading the cost over the full student body,” he said. “If people opted out then the price wouldn’t be any cheaper.”

Research will wrap up at the end of this week and Loreto said they should have results by the end of November.

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