By Hayley Hanks
The TTC board unanimously approved the U-Pass policy framework this afternoon, bringing Ryerson another step closer to a discounted university transit pass.
The framework, released last week, outlines the price, participation and adoption of the pass, eligibility criteria and agreement terms for it. The U-Pass, only available on Presto and to full-time students, would cost students $280 per semester, but would not include administrative fees as they would vary by post-secondary institution. The proposed cost averages out to around $70 per month.
“I think it’s going to be a really amazing thing,” Coun. De Baeremaeker said at the meeting, which was streamed live on YouTube. “A $70 deal is still a really good deal for any student who’s currently taking public transit.”
Currently, a post-secondary student Metropass costs $116.75 per month for unlimited trips, so the U-Pass, also offering unlimited trips, would mean significant savings for commuters.
The report also states that students will have to have the TTC Post-Secondary Photo ID when travelling with their U-Pass. However, during the board meeting, several councillors discussed their concerns for a TTC-sanctioned photo ID, as most students already have a post-secondary photo ID card and requiring two photo IDs may disincentivize students from using the pass.
Daniel Lis, vice-president education at the Ryerson Students’ Union, presented to the board in favour of the U-Pass.
“A $70 deal is still a really good deal for any student who’s currently taking public transit”
“We know students need to use transit and our results indicate that they want to use transit, they just need transit to be a little more affordable,” Lis said, referring to a student survey on commuting his and other student unions conducted.
Ryerson students Razi Syed, Lauren Emberson and Adam Asmar also presented to the board in favour of the pass, alongside student representatives from the University of Toronto.
According to the now-approved policy framework, the U-Pass is “for eligible students for all three semesters, including the summer semester,” but does not discuss further how the summer semester from May to August would be financed.
In order to create the U-Pass, the TTC needs a minimum of one post-secondary institution from the following to opt-in: University of Toronto St. George, Ryerson, OCAD University or George Brown College.
Now that the policy framework has passed, it will be up to each post-secondary institution to hold referendums in order to opt-in to the U-Pass. Referendums that pass will allow the schools to incorporate the U-Pass into their tuition fees.
If passed, referendums require every student’s participation, meaning students don’t have the option to opt-out if they don’t use transit. Schools who agree to implement the pass commit to a four-year term with the TTC.
Lis previously told The Eye that Ryerson’s referendum will be discussed at the upcoming Board of Governors meeting on Mar. 29.
According to The Varsity, U of T’s referendum is scheduled to be held next week during their spring elections.
“We will watch the referendum with interest, and look forward to many more successful ones, assuming the first one goes well,” city councillor Josh Colle said at the TTC board meeting.