Reduced rate would cut transit costs in half for students

By: Sofia Reimer

The Red River College Students’ Association (RRSCA) is holding a vote during the upcoming election to decide whether to reinstate the Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass). 

The U-Pass provides unlimited access to public transit in Winnipeg and is paid for through tuition at the beginning of each term.

Although not all students may need the transit pass, every eligible full-time student would have an additional $208 added to tuition each semester—a total cost of $416 per year.

Mandeep Sidhu, the vice president of internal affairs at Red River College Polytechnic, clarified what makes a student eligible.

“You need to be a full-time student who studies at one of the Winnipeg campuses, and you need to live in Winnipeg,” Sidhu said.

Bus-goers chat about the upcoming vote. /SOFIA REIMER.

If you are a part-time student, you can opt out of the program and avoid the fee.

Yoon Kim, a first-time student at RRC Polytech, said that even though he gets a ride to school, he will vote in favour of the U-Pass.

“Some students will need it. I know a student who came from Hong Kong, and she doesn’t have her license. When we have to come back to campus for classes, she’s going to have a tough time getting here. A lot of students are in the same boat,” Kim said.

Students who take the bus have existing payment options for public transit. However, they are more expensive. 

Right now, a monthly bus pass is $104 for an adult. To pay for a semester of bussing, students must pay $416. The U-Pass program would cut these costs in half.

Other students have different views on the pass. 

Shaun Bisset is one of many RRC Polytech students who drive to class and pay a steep price for parking. He likes the idea of a flat rate to get to school but doesn’t want to pay for both parking and the U-Pass.

“I hate to say it, but at this point in my life, cost is everything. I don’t want to spend money on an extra service that I don’t need and am not going to use. If I was a bus-goer, I would love it,” Bisset said.

In fall 2017, RRC Polytech students held a similar vote to pass the U-Pass.

At the time, the RRCSA agreed on a price with Winnipeg Transit of $130 per term. Nearly 60 per cent of respondents voted in favour of U-Pass. 

The program was slated to begin in 2020, but COVID-19 delayed its start.

Now, the price has increased to $208— a 62 per cent hike from the last U-Pass program.

RRCSA is holding the vote to see if the student body is still interested in implementing the pass.

Voting is now open on the RRCSA website and ends on Wednesday.