Students have react to the College’s new U-Pass being added to tuition

By Gabrielle Piché

Red River College students have mixed feelings over the school’s upcoming U-Pass.

Students voted for a U-Pass in a referendum during the 2016-2017 school year./GABRIELLE PICHÉ

Some, like Tara Holmberg, find value in the new bus pass.

“I would probably take the bus more often,” she said.

Holmberg, 31, catches rides to the Exchange District Campus for her Applied Accounting classes. She said she doesn’t spend money on public transit now, but she wouldn’t mind a U-Pass cost added to her tuition.

“It makes sense when there’s a lot of people who use the bus,” Holmberg said.

Other students, like Brandi Sinclair, don’t want to pay for a U-Pass.  

Brandi Sinclair, 24, carpools to school. Sinclair said she doesn’t think a U-Pass would change her choice of commute./GABRIELLE PICHÉ

Sinclair is a Business Administration student who lives in Transcona. She expects she’ll have to transfer buses to get to the Exchange District Campus.

Sinclair said she’ll probably continue driving to school, even after paying for the U-Pass.

“It’s more of a convenience thing for me,” she said. “I’m already paying for my vehicle, I’m already paying for my [parking] pass, and I carpool with someone.” 

Sinclair and other students will soon have to pay for a U-Pass regardless of their public transit use.

The College is expecting to have a U-Pass system in place beginning in the 2020 fall semester. Full-time students taking courses at Winnipeg campuses will be eligible.

Students will pay $160.75 per term, according to a plan that Winnipeg’s city council approved. The fee will be part of students’ tuitions.

Students living outside of the city can opt out of the U-Pass.

A semester-long bus pass during the 2019-2020 school year costs $272.25. So, students paying for two semesters of transit use now pay nearly $550.

“Dropping down to $160, that’s just over half the price – it’s a much better option for students,” said Melissa Ghidoni, the vice-president external of the Red River College Students’ Association.

Melissa Ghidoni attended the public works committee meeting on Nov. 4 to represent the Red River College Students’ Association. Councillors discussed the U-Pass contract at the meeting./GABRIELLE PICHÉ

Ghidoni said the U-Pass promotes a sustainable way of travel: fewer cars on the road means a lesser impact on the environment.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Ghidoni said. “We’ve seen it working at the U of M and U of W, and (Red River College) seems like the next natural step.”

Students will have the option of buying a 14-day pass to cover the end of August or early May.

City council approved the bus pass agreement at a meeting on Nov. 21.

Winnipeg’s public works committee reviewed the report at a meeting on Nov. 4. The councillors unanimously endorsed the U-Pass plan.