Winter bus pass improvement over last semester

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Cartoon squirrel waits for bus outside Riddell Centre Morgan Ortman

U-Pass still off the table

by hammad ali, contributor

In the summer of 2020 the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) and Regina Transit announced that they would not be able to provide the discounted U-Pass for the Fall 2020 term. Since most classes were being offered online, and students would not be commuting to campus as often, it was deemed infeasible to offer the discounted pass for students (though somehow it’s still feasible for the admin to charge remote students a recreation fee for a gym they can’t access).

The news was an unwelcome shock to many, particularly since many students work off-campus and would still need to be commuting to and from their places of employment. Furthermore, the rationale of encouraging students to take the bus more often and thus contribute to reducing traffic was also not being helped by this decision. Without the discounted U-Pass, the cheapest bus pass option would be the $78 monthly pass for post-secondary students. For those who would not be using the bus as often, there were cheaper alternatives like 20 rides for $58 or 10 rides for $29. However, any of these would cost substantially more the U-Pass.

By the beginning of the fall term, the student union announced that they will be providing the monthly bus pass, usually costing $78, for $50. While URSU subsidized $28 per student per month from September to December, this still represented nearly four times the cost of the U-Pass program. Any savings expected from the reduction in Rec and Athletic fee were thus spent on the bus pass.

Thankfully, in late Fall 2020, URSU announced that a temporary Winter 2021 U-Pass is being made available, costing $100 from the date of activation through the end of April 2021. We got in touch with URSU president Gurjinder Singh Lehal to learn more.

“We had been negotiating with the City of Regina since May 2020 to discuss viable transit pass options for U of R students, with the discussion ebbing and flowing based on new information about COVID, university course delivery styles, and student needs. Finally, around November 2020 we were able to agree on the current special pass for Winter 2021,” said Lehal.

Lehal added that while URSU was subsidizing the entire cost of the monthly passes in Fall 2020, “the special pass is being offered directly from Regina Transit. It is a temporary option, with the only similarity with U-Pass being that it provides discounted bus passes to URSU members.” It should be mentioned that all University of Regina full-time students are considered members of URSU.

While all students, including those that currently have no classes on-campus, are able to purchase this pass, it is currently only available from the URSU Member Services Desk on the second floor of Riddell Centre.

When asked whether there are any plans to provide something similar in the Spring/Summer 2021 semester, Lehal said “As classes are going to be online, we will not be able to operate the regular U-Pass. However, discussions are ongoing with Regina Transit about ways to ensure that our students continue to have affordable access to public transit. We are grateful to Regina Transit, and would like to affirm that URSU has continued and will continue to help students during the pandemic and despite campus restrictions.”

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