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Evaluating the U-Pass

Is this the right thing for you?/ Taras Matkovsky
Is this the right thing for you?/ Taras Matkovsky

The ongoing debate is reflected on.

Author: Jae Hur

A difficulty of student transportation and parking within the university has sparked the U-Pass initiative, giving rise a referendum that will take place during the general elections. The Carillon has published several perspectives on this initiative through various editorials that challenge (Volume 57, Issue 14, p. 13) and defend (Vol. 57, Issue 16, p. 15) this mandatory bus pass. This article will challenge several notions of the U-Pass that have not been yet accounted for.

First off, the U-Pass initiative overlooks those who already own a parking pass. Although the U-Pass initiative aims to lessen demand for parking within the, there will remain a large demographic of students who will be forced to pay for a mandatory U-Pass that will drive to school daily with their costly parking passes for various circumstances. Although Mr. Vanderberg’s claim that the benefits of having many options for transportation is valid, this notion is unrealistic for low-income students who pay hundreds of dollars for parking passes. It is unreasonable for a student who holds a parking pass for hundreds of dollars to pay an additional 70-90 dollars a semester for a U-Pass they will not use to commute to school. Therefore, this initiative must be amended to promote more balance. For instance, those who purchase a parking pass should have the U-Pass fees waived or reduced.

A natural counter-argument for the previous amendment is distribution of equity. One may argue that everyone holds responsibility to ensure improvements in student transportation regardless if one has the circumstantial and financial capacity to drive. However, it is difficult for students, whose lives are ever-revolving with fluctuating class schedules, work engagements and extra-curricular activities, to forfeit driving. In accordance, Regina Transit and its system is often inadequate in meeting the unique lifestyles of university students due to long wait times, complicated transfers and long commutes. As a result, many students have no choice but to drive everywhere one goes, including the university.

Furthermore, these evident inadequacies of Regina Transit further mitigate the positive prospects of the U-Pass initiative. Even though the U-Pass initiative hopes to spark an overall Regina transit system, the long-lasting ineffectiveness of Regina Transit makes it difficult to make that hope into a reality. Mr. Vanderberg presented the promised upgrades on behalf of the City of Regina, which shows definite but unsubstantial progress in additional 15 minute trips to the university and nine more trips to the university overall. These upgrades also do not improve in any way transportation not related to the university.

It goes without question that this U-Pass initiative is well-intentioned. However, the initiative lacks breadth in ensuring that all semantics are covered. The major flaw of double charging students who have to drive is a grave issue, while the inadequate present transit system fails to offset this flaw. Progress must be made in student transportation. However, I believe that a mandatory fee is not the correct way. For those who can and will take the bus should be given opportunities to do so at a heavily discounted price and proper marketing must take place to ensure that many people take advantage of this opportunity.

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