Kwantlen locks into U-Pass for three more years

Seventy-eight per cent of student vote in favour.

By Sarah Schuchard
[associate news editor]

The results are in and Kwantlen students will have the U-Pass for three more years., albeit at a higher monthy price. Seventy-eight per cent of students who voted, voted to keep the universal transit program during the February referendum.

At $45 monthly, beginning in May, Kwantlen students pay more for their U-Pass then any other school in Metro Vancouver. The new $35 U-Pass fee is in addition to the accompanying $10 MultiPass fee that Kwantlen students approved in 2011.

The final referendum numbers, according to the Kwantlen Student Society (KSA) website, were 1532 in favour and 432 against.

The referendum approval rating was 12 per cent higher than when it was first voted on in 2011, according to Christopher Girodat, the KSA’s director of student services,

The monthly fee will first increase by $5 per month, and then an additional $1.75 in 2014. In total, the fee will rise by $8 over the next three years.Along with a fee increase, students will also see a change in the look of the U-Pass, to the new Compass Card model being adopted by TransLink.

According to Arzo Ansary, director of external affairs, the KSA is still unaware if the $1.50 fee for the Compass Card will be covered by the U-Pass fee, or if students will have to pay extra. The Compass Card will have students’ picture and I.D. on the card, and it will be reloadable every month.

“A lot of considerations went into it including privacy for students, what the Compass Card would look like . . . it was a long and arduous process,” says Ansary.

Kayla England, a mature student at Kwantlen and recently elected as a KSA arts representative, does not use transit and is against the U-Pass.

“It’s unfair to make all the students pay for something that a majority of students use, but still the minority does not have the ability to opt- out,” she says.

Due to her having her own car for transportation, England expresses that the U- Pass is of no use, and unnecessary for her.

“For me . . . somebody that lives in Port Moody, it kind of seems a little bit ridiculous that . . . I have to take the toll over the No. 1 to get here, and now I also have to pay for the U-Pass that I don’t use… it doesn’t really seem fair to me,” she says.

Although there is an opt-out option for students, England says she did not meet the requirements needed to be exempt from the MultiPass.

According to the KSA, their contract with TransLink reads that students can only opt out if they prove to be experiencing financial hardship, have to use  an employment vehicle, experience a disability that prohibits them from using their U- Pass, or experience music or geographic hardship.

According to the KSA’s MultiPass webpage, the previous contract between the KSA and TranksLink only allows for five per cent of students to be exempt from the U-Pass, allowing little flexibility for student exemption.

“To students who don’t use transit, I’d encourage them to take advantage of all the MultiPass services. We know that not all students take the bus, that’s why we’ve tried to bundle additional services,” says Girodat.

“The U-Pass makes it accessible for a majority of our students, so we think this is a very good thing,” says Girodat.

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