City Council approves U-Pass
strong support results in 9-1 vote
On Monday Sept 28, U-Pass was put before City Council, having been approved by the Executive Committee earlier this month. A number of speakers came forward in favour of the U-Pass. Among those who spoke were Evangeline Gordon, a former student, Terri Sleeva, a member of the Regina Citizen’s Public Transit Coalition, Jim Elliot, and John Klein, a staff person at the University of Regina.
These speakers brought up many points in favour of the agreement between the City of Regina and URSU. Points raised included the increase in bus service for all Regina citizens, the benefit for U of R staff who either ride the bus or would benefit from decreased student traffic, and most notably the decrease in financial burden for students requiring passes.
Devon Peters, URSU President, Tom Chase, University Provost, and David Vanderberg, who lead the official support for the U-Pass referendum also spoke. They echoed the sentiments of other speakers, outlining the benefits to city in detail.
City Councillors then spoke to the U-Pass idea. The vast majority spoke in favour of the U-Pass, citing the fact that the U-Pass offers increased benefits to all Regina citizens without increasing the burden on taxpayers. The agreement would see the City purchasing five 40-foot busses for an estimated $2,750,000, adding a new route, and expanding several more. U-Pass fees would then cover the increased operating costs for the busses over the next seven years.
The assumption of risk by URSU has been a main cause of concern for Councillor (and former U of R President) Bob Hawkins. By having URSU cover operating costs, the city will assume only the financial risk on the initial purchase.
Councillor Hawkins also questioned the fairness of having the cost of the transit expansion fall on the students if the benefit will be more widespread, and asserted that a U-Pass would not make Regina any more environmentally friendly.
In the end, City Council voted 9-1 in favour of adopting the U-Pass. The official language of the agreement will soon be issued to the URSU executive, and at that point, if approved by the Board, U-Pass will finish its long journey.