On February 26, 2014, Winnipeg City Council approved funding a portion of a subsidized bus pass for post-secondary students. What’s the scoop with this universal bus pass or “U-Pass”? Read on.

How does a u-pass differ from the current discounted monthly bus pass for university students?

The U-Pass is valid for the entire academic year (September-April). For the year 2013/14, buying the current discounted monthly bus pass for university students adds up to $536. The U-Pass will cost the student $260 instead. That cost will be automatically included as part of student fees for all undergraduate students.

will the u-pass apply to all post-secondary students in Winnipeg?

No. At this point, it applies only to undergraduate students at the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg. Adding other post-secondary institutions will require financial support from the City and Province (who is funding half the operating subsidy), and agreement from Winnipeg Transit. Talks are reportedly already underway with Red River College.

WHEN will the u-pass KICK IN?

Referendums will be held at both U of M and U of W. Assuming the students vote in favour of the U-Pass, it will come into effect in fall 2016.

Will more students take transit because of U-PASS?

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) says about 33-34% of students currently use transit 3-4 times per week. They expect a 40-50% increase in ridership with the introduction of the U-Pass based on the experience of other Canadian universities.

Can a student opt out?

A student can opt out if they live outside the service area of Winnipeg Transit or have a disability that requires the use of Handi-Transit.

The beauty of the U-Pass is that students can use the bus pass to go anywhere, anytime across Winnipeg. So even if they live within walking or cycling distance of the university, they can still use this unrestricted transit pass for other travel needs.

Why should the City and taxpayers subsidize transit for students?

UMSU notes that the University of Manitoba provides 6,400 parking stalls for students. Getting thousands of students out of their cars and onto buses will reduce vehicle traffic congestion leading to and around the universities, reduce the demand for parking in and around the campuses, free up valuable land currently used for parking for more productive purposes, and reduce wear and tear on our roads. Not to mention reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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