Post-secondary students in Toronto could have lower transit expenses soon.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has recommended to their board that they accept a plan to make universal passes more affordable for university students while at the same time increasing ridership.
The TTC has calculated that it can work if U-Passes cost $70 per month, per student. The plan is based on an approximate 100 percent participation rate, so every student would have to participate for it to be effective at that at that price, which is revenue-neutral.
The price of the passes would be $280 per semester and would be included in the tuition fees.
The plan was prompted by student union representatives from four post-secondary institutions who formed an organization to advocate for the pass. They conducted an online survey and reported to the TTC that 95 percent of 16,000 online respondents would vote in favour of a U-Pass.
For students at participating universities, it could mean a reduced cost compared with the current post-secondary Metropasses, which cost $116.75, a $46.75 difference.
For the TTC, it means an increase in ridership. The cost of increased services has been built into the proposed price of the passes.
For the plan to come to fruition, there are still two steps. First, the board must accept the proposal. They will be meeting on March 20.
Second, at least one university must vote for the passes in a referendum. If they vote for the passes, they can then be issued.
Such a referendum has happened before but was unsuccessful. So instead a Metropass was created, allowing post-secondary students to pay the senior and student rate.
Based on the survey results from the student unions, it looks more promising this time.
Only one university needs to have a successful referendum to get U-Pass started at that university. Each of the eligible universities must opt in through such referendums. Once successfully initiated, the university is committed to use the pass for four years.
The TTC has spoken with representatives from OCAD University, Ryerson University, University of Toronto, York University, Centennial College, George Brown College, Humber College, and Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology.
For most universities the TTC consulted with, the timeline of fees is already in place for the 2018/2019 year. With successful referendums the U-Passes would be established in the fall of 2019.
However, the University of Toronto (St. George Campus) will hold referendums this month, and if the votes are in favour of the passes, they could be implemented as early as this fall.