New discount metropass

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By Josh O’Kane

Despite having access to new discounted student passes, students bought fewer TTC metropasses through Ryerson this September.

And that’s something Ryerson Students’ Union president Toby Whitfield considers a good thing.

“We actually expected to sell less, because with our new student passes . . . students can now purchase them across the city,” said Whitfield.

In previous years, the Ryerson community had access to discounted passes through the TTC’s Volume Incentive Program (VIP), which are currently priced at $107.

But only a limited number of passes were available and they were sold exclusively in the Student Campus Center (SCC). But in November 2009, the RSU and other Toronto student unions banded together with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)–Ontario, and successfully lobbied for a $99 metropass for post-secondary students effective this month.

Unlike the VIP pass, the student metropass is available across the city at all TTC stations.

So while only 2,736 student metropasses and 2,173 VIP metropasses were sold for the month of September —down 10 per cent from last year— he said it’s just an indication that students have the freedom to buy them elsewhere.

To use the student metropass, students have to purchase a $7 student ID card that must be shown when boarding a TTC vehicle. None of the ID card costs go to the RSU, but rather to the TTC and the printing company.

However, Whitfield said the RSU gets a small commission — between 0.1 and one per cent of the sales of the student metropass.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone, city councillor for Ward 18 (Davenport), explains that additional ID is necessary because drivers can’t possibly memorize all varying types of student identification.

“You need a standardized one so you can evaluate if it is valid or not,” Giambrone said.

While student unions lauded the new pass a victory for Toronto students, it’s a small discount compared to mandatory universal transit passes available in other jurisdictions.

At the University of Guelph, students pay $82.15 per semester for a mandatory universal bus pass.

The result is that students pay just under a quarter the price of Guelph’s transit pass ($288 over four months) and almost a fifth of what Toronto students pay per semester (four monthly metropasses costs $396).

But a similar universal pass would not be so easy to achieve in Toronto, said Hamid Osman, the Ontario National Executive Representative with the CFS.

“The issue is, one, that the price is too high; secondly, there’s not an opt-out option,” Osman said.

He also noted that Ryerson students who use other transit systems like GO Transit, VIVA and YRT have additional transit needs that must be met.

But the $99 student metropass is the right step for the students who need it, he said

“It’s amazing. Students are now saving upwards of $22 a month.”

Giambrone’s just happy it means more transit riders.

“We know that one of the largest segments of transit riders are young people,” said the TTC chair.

“We also know that if we can . . . keep them on transit through their early 20s, then we have a very good chance of creating lifelong transit riders.”

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