Students’ association to push to reinstate U-Pass next election

By: Autumn Fehr

In March 2022, a failed referendum left Red River College Polytechnic students without a Universal Bus Pass  (U-Pass). 

During the Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA) elections from March 21 to March 23, there was a referendum on the U-Pass, but there weren’t enough votes for the results to be considered valid.

This has left many students, including first-year international applied accounting student April Araneta, to deal with increased costs for transportation to and from school.

“I think it’s a bit unfair… It would be nice if they bring the U-Pass back for students like us… I think the students would save a lot,” she said.

Nina Buebos, a Creative Communications student at RRC Polytech, stands in front of the students’ association office on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Buebos uses Winnipeg Transit to get to and from school. (Autumn Fehr)

The U-Pass was introduced almost a decade ago as a partnership between Winnipeg postsecondary institutions and Winnipeg Transit to provide unlimited access to transit at a subsidized rate for students.  

As students return in-person this fall, affordable transportation couldn’t be more important.

According to a review by Winnipeg Transit in 2017 and 2018, approximately 90 per cent of students used a U-Pass, and 53 per cent of those students used it daily, or more. 

According to the college’s bylaws, a minimum of 1000 votes are required for a referendum to be passed by RRC Polytech students. 

With only 408 (57 per cent) votes in favour of keeping the U-Pass, the RRCSA board decided not to approve the referendum.

With no U-Pass, students using transit must choose from other bus fare options offered by Winnipeg Transit.

In 2022/23, U-Pass fees were $212 per term, making it a 26 per cent discount compared to the postsecondary semester pass, and a 50 per cent discount from the full adult bus fare. 

Without a U-Pass, the cheapest option for students is to purchase the e-pass, which is $288 per term. 

Manpreet Kaur, the president of the SA, sees the need for a U-Pass as things start to return in person. She hopes for the best when it comes to rectifying this referendum, but will not be taking any action on it until after the 2022/23 school year. 

“Being a student myself, I don’t think it was a not a good decision. Students are facing issues because the bus pass is very expensive,” Kaur said. 

“We are not pushing this at this moment, but we will review next summer and try to make it our priority to run a referendum again for this because this is in student’s favour and we are here for students,” she said. 

With a minimum number of vote needed, it’s ultimately up to the students to bring the U-Pass back in the next election.