All full-time undergraduate students at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) will now automatically receive a universal transit pass.
The U-Pass, which was first approved by the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA), University of Manitoba (U of M) students and Winnipeg City Council in 2014, went into effect on Sept. 1. The pass is included in registration fees and costs $130 per term.
“Winnipeg was, in fact, one of the largest Canadian cities to not have a program … that included a public transportation pass as part of a student’s tuition fees,” Rorie Mcleod-Arnould, a former UWSA executive, says.
Mcleod-Arnould says the UWSA, the University of Manitoba Students’ Union and the Canadian Federation of Students partnered to outline a U-Pass proposal. This union spearheaded lobbying efforts, and both the U of W and the U of M put forward a referendum to their students.
“After the successful student referendums in spring of 2012-13, the newly elected student executives (myself included) returned to city councillors and the mayor to make our case,” he says. “While the idea of a U-Pass was well received by many, there was significant resistance to the perceived costs to the city by city councillors and (former) Mayor Katz.”
After the successful student referendums in 2014, the Winnipeg City Council formally approved the program by a vote of 13-3 in March 2015.
The program is partially funded through student tuition and relies on public funding in order to make the tuition fee increase affordable for students, Mcleod-Arnould explains.
“I am very pleased to see that negotiations on implementation went smoothly and the program will be in place for this academic year,” he says.
“(We know) that the riders of today are more likely to continue using public transportation later in life. This program should lead to many more Winnipeggers riding the bus ten and twenty years from now.”
Kevin Settee, president of the UWSA, is excited for the program launch that saves students money and that he believes supports an agenda of environmental sustainability.
“I’m looking forward to telling students that we are a part of a global movement that is taking action on climate justice by actively reducing our carbon footprint,” he says.
”It’s also important to remind students that the genesis of this program was initiated by students at the University of Winnipeg who voted … and passed the program.”
The U-Pass is a step toward lowering our carbon emissions, Settee explains. He hopes more students become advocates of the U-Pass and adopt public transportation as an initiative to tackle our carbon footprint.
“This program goes beyond transportation to and from school, but provides students with transportation across the city anytime, anywhere,” he says.
“Looking into the future of public transportation in Winnipeg, making a transition from a bus transit system that relies on fossil fuels to zero emission electric buses would be the dream.”
Students who have registered and paid their tuition and fees can now pick up their U-Pass at the UWSA Info Booth.