U-Pass to extend into spring and summer

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Catch a ride! Jingyu Zhang

Bus still not on time

In March of 2019, URSU held a student referendum to discuss the possibility of, and interest in, an expansion of the U-Pass to include access to transit during spring and summer. 85 per cent of those in attendance who voted, voted in favour of this extension.

As outlined in a memorandum of intent signed by URSU, the U-Pass would be in effect for students enrolled in spring or summer courses from May 1 to Aug. 31. Additionally, cost would be determined as it is in the fall and winter, where unit price per student is determined based on the total sum paid to the City. Presently, students pay $87.60 each semester for their U-Pass, saving them $224.40 in regular transit fare for four months. There is also a provision that creates an additional ride on weekdays at 10 p.m. for routes 21 and 22 (Glencairn and Arcola East) as well as an extra ride after 6 p.m.

A detailed report can be found on the City of Regina website under minutes of the Community and Protective Services Committee meeting held on Jan. 8. The report is set to be approved at the public City Council meeting on Jan. 29.

City Councillor Andrew Stevens of Ward 3 spoke to how this change would affect students. “Basically, it’s an extension of that existing relationship, but into the spring and summer.”

“[The U-Pass] has been a resounding success in terms of having transit access, accessibility across the city and certainly for students at the U of R. I take the bus all the time and since I’ve started here, the services have increased incredibly and it’s a result of the U-Pass.”

Stevens is also an Associate Professor at the University of Regina in the Faculty of Business Administration whose areas of research include industrial relations and human resource management. As an active member of the campus community and an elected official, Stevens is able to see the benefits of the U-Pass first-hand.

“What we know generally at the [City of Regina] is that if you reduce the cost of public transit, you maintain or increase ridership. Since 2015 there has been an increase in over a million U-Pass related rides. More people are taking the bus, in part because [of] the cost. One, it’s required, everybody pays for it. It’s distributed amongst the population so the cost decreases. It’s cheaper than parking your car.

“We’ve seen an increase in the percentage of students who are activating their cards. What the city would be concerned with [is that] we have a benchmark of bus riders per hour. We can clock how many people are or not using it, based on how they use their R-Card. Because it’s real-time data, we know exactly how many trips people are taking. If it was demonstrated that students are paying this fee [and] nobody’s using it by measure of ridership, I think it would really be up to URSU to say ‘this isn’t working’ and the City to flag [if] buses are running empty. But the reality is that they’re not and we’re actually seeing an increase in ridership on certain routes, specifically routes that go to Harbour Landing.”

“In every sense, it’s been a success when it comes to the transit improvements related to the U-Pass, but also coming to and from the university.”

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