UPass Referendum Approved, Set For Late March
Upcoming student vote will decide on discounted TTC rates for Fall 2018
Emily Barber ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
Photo: Burst / PEXELS.
February 24 witnessed the approval of the UPass Referendum by the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU). A vote will take place at the end of March, a vote that could mean the installation of a PRESTO-based pass at a discounted rate on current post-secondary fare. If the student body votes in favour of the UPass, full-time undergraduate students at the St. George Campus (UTSG) will be granted unlimited travel privileges on all TTC services starting Fall 2018. UTSG students would only be charged for the semesters they are enrolled in, including the summer session if applicable.
The UPass proposal has been almost a year in the making. UTSU had been meeting with TTC officials along with student unions from Ryerson University, OCAD University, and George Brown College since the summer of 2017. The TTC board voted unanimously in favour of a UPass on December 11, 2017. This referendum is the step that could make it a reality.
As it stands, the offered fee is set at $322.50 per semester for unlimited travel on the TTC. This fee — for those unwilling to do the math — results in a rate of approximately $80.60 a month, a discount from the current cheapest rate offered by the monthly Metropass at $116.75. However, this rate could potentially go even lower. On March 20, a TTC board meeting will discuss the final offered price to UTSU, and they have established that the absolute maximum for Fall 2018 will be $80.60 per month.
Additionally, to ensure the UPass remains a discount, UTSU maintains that any rise in fees will not exceed 5% a year. This cap stays in place regardless of any hypothetical future increase in post-secondary TTC fare, or any costs incurred during the process of implementing the program.
The semester fee would be automatically included in tuition and be mandatory for all undergraduate students, regardless of whether an individual uses the TTC for commuting purposes. The mandatory payment for all students is a stipulation that TTC stakeholders were inflexible on. However, the unlimited access to the TTC that the UPass would grant is not restricted to travel to and from school. Undergrad students who don’t directly benefit from the pass for commuting purposes can still derive some gain from it.
Post-graduate and part-time students are not included in the UPass negotiations at this time.
One of the long-term goals of both the UTSU and the TTC board is to incorporate other transit systems in the Greater Toronto Area into the UPass system, in order to accommodate those students living beyond the reach of the TTC and require additional transit services to get to school.
The campaign period for the UPass Referendum will take place from March 19 until March 28 at 6 p.m. Students can vote for or against the UPass from March 26 until March 28 at 6 p.m. online at www.utsu.simplyvoting.com.
The Mike has reached out to Vice President Anne Boucher for comment.