Mayor David Miller’s proposed U-Pass fails to impress students: Student voice defeats public transportation giant

University of Toronto Scarborough students head to the polls to vote on

The Malvern, Highland Creek and West Hill areas probably won’t see increased public transportation anytime soon as local students voted this week against Universal Pass (U-Pass) that would have required all of them to buy-in.

The proposed pass was supposed to increase ridership on the Toronto Transit Commission and had students voted in favour of the pass, there would have eventually been improved service on the 38 Highland Creek, the 95 York Mills and the 116 Morningside buses, officials say.

But there are no exact figures, says Joe Mihevc, vice chair of the TTC.

“Will there be more [buses] tomorrow after the vote is taken? No,” Mihevc said, before the results came out. “But I would say in a year or two years, service in that area will go up.”

Although every student at UTSC who would be forced into purchasing the U-Pass would not benefit from it, Mihevc said, “as a group there is a big benefit.”

Failure to implement the proposed U-Pass will mean a loss of almost $5 million in potential revenue for the TTC. The referendum revealed 73 per cent of students voted against the U-Pass.

The U-Pass would have been a non-transferable pass that would have provided UTSC students’ unlimited travel on regular TTC services for an additional $240 per semester, automatically added to their tuition.

Results from a TTC survey show that the majority (59 per cent) of UTSC students utilize TTC or GO Transit services. However, when Miller campaigned on a promise to implement the U-Pass program in 2006, he failed to account for the remaining 41 per cent.

Mihevc said the TTC would not have made money on the deal.

Jonathan Wijayakumar, a third year social science student at UTSC, agreed with Mihevc and that’s why he voted in favour of the pass.

Since participation for the U-Pass was mandatory as there was no opt-out option and that raised a lot of controversy amongst UTSC students.

Leah Walker, a third year molecular biology student at UTSC voted against the U-Pass.

“I think it is very unfair for people that drive or take rides to school,” she said. “And I think it adds a lot of money to every student’s tuition and it only helps out a few people.”

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Posted: Apr 4 2008 8:29 am
Filed under: News