Price to jump to $45 monthly if referendum is successful.
By Matt Bossons
[associate features editor]
Kwantlen students will soon have the chance to vote on whether to keep the U-Pass or to scrap it. If they do keep it, they’d better get ready to pay more.
Beginning May 1, 2013, the price of the monthly U-Pass will jump to $35 from $30. Kwantlen students will also pay an extra $10 for the MultiPass services for a total of $45 monthly. It will then increase to $46.75 per month beginning May 1, 2014 and then to $48 per month beginning May 1, 2015.
The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) will hold the referendum concurrently with their general elections Feb. 27 – 28, to determine whether or nor the U-Pass program will continue at Kwantlen after the end of the spring semester.
According to Arzo Ansary, the KSA’s director of external affairs, the price could have been even higher if she and other student representatives on the U-Pass advisory committee hadn’t fought back against TransLink’s initial demands.
The $10 MultiPass package that is already in place will not be up for a vote and will remain unchanged whether the referendum passes or fails, meaning students will still have access to the intercampus shuttle, the Car2go program and the Steve Nash/Fitness World fitness services.
The referendum will be decided by polling stations on each campus, as opposed to an online voting system.
“Historically speaking, the KSA and online voting don’t go well together, so because of past precedent we decided to do polling,” said Ansary.
Ansary agreed Langley lacks sufficient transit services, but said the KSA was hoping to change the situation for students in Langley and Cloverdale.
“Yes in a sense it appears that Langley students are shafted but we are trying everything we can do on our end to push TransLink and the ministry for better infrastructure in Langley,” said Ansary.
“We have done a lot of lobbying on Surrey light rail. The infrastructure is already there, but they just need some money to inject in there and try and liven it up and fix it up.
The KSA, according to Ansary, is pushing the government to increase the rate of students allowed to opt out of the U-Pass
from one per cent to 1.5 per cent. Ansary and the KSA also recently set up a hardship bursary to help pay back some students who may not be able to afford paying for the U-Pass.
She acknowledged that students at schools closer to downtown Vancouver benefit from more transit and yet still pay less than Kwantlen students.
“[It] still provides a service, and though not the same as UBC it’s still something,” she said.
“And it provides students with the shuttle for example and other things they can use their U-Pass with.”
Christopher Girodat, the KSA ’s director of student services pointed out that Kwantlen students also have services not available to other schools.
“The intercampus shuttle is huge, it’s letting students who would never have gone to the Langley campus before have access to tons of class sections that they wouldn’t be able to take if they had a 70-minute transit ride by TransLink,” noted Girodat.
He also praised the Car2go program as a good service, offering affordable access to Smart cars located at KPU campuses.
“There’s tons of parking zones for those Smart cars, so when you drive to another campus you can just dump it there,” he said.
Benjamin Newsom, the KSA’s MultiPass program coordinator recounted students who have used the Car2go service to go to Whistler, instead of using their larger trucks.
“It cost them about $90 to fill the truck whereas it costs them $80 to use the Smart car and they don’t have to pay for gas or insurance or anything,” explained Newsom. Students at colleges and universities across Metro Vancouver will be voting over the next few months whether or not to continue using the U-Pass.
Students at UBC and Vancouver Community College (VCC) voted overwhelmingly to keep their U-Passes in referenda held last month, with UBC 96.4 per cent in favour and VCC 97 per cent in favour.