August 5, 2020

By ERIC MCKENZIE

Controversy surrounds the route Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) is proposing to drive down regarding a U-pass.

At a CSI meeting on Oct. 19, a U-pass was discussed which, if put into place, would see all Conestoga students charged $50 to $100 a semester to use Grand River Transit (GRT) buses.

PHOTO BY ERIC MCKENZIE. Conestoga students pay $204 currently for a four-month bus pass. The U-pass discussed at a Conestoga Students Inc. meeting could make the pass $50 to $100 a semester.

In a recent poll Conestoga students were asked if they would be in favour of having student ID cards changed into universal GRT bus passes. About half of the students asked said they would be for the change. The other half opposed the idea, saying it could be a financial burden to the students, and there would be an inability to opt-out for those who do not use the transit system.

“The cost passed on to students who walk, bike or drive is unfair,” said Jessie Holm, a second-year broadcast journalism student.

Even though Cody May, a second-year broadcast journalism student, already pays $204 for a four-month bus pass from GRT, he said he would oppose the U-pass.

“I’m thinking of the community as a whole and I don’t want my actions to affect other students who don’t use it.”

Shelby Reyn, a second-year broadcast student, said in the past year and a half she has only taken the bus once and thinks the U-pass would be an unnecessary additional cost.

“It makes sense, but not for me.”

In Waterloo a referendum was held in 2005 at both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo that resulted in both schools adopting a U-pass for their WatCards and OneCards.

Laurier students pay $54 a term for their pass and U of W students pay about $100 a term.

Chris Casciato, a first-year broadcast television student at Conestoga, said although he drives to school and does not use buses he wouldn’t mind paying $50 to $100 a term for access to public transit.

“I would have the pass for an emergency, at the very least,” he said.

Kyle Sterling, a second-year broadcast television student, drives to school but said “I wouldn’t mind having the pass for trips to the bar. Cabs can get really expensive.”

Another second-year broadcast student who also drives to school and pays for parking, Malcom Scott, said he would be in favour of the U-pass for Conestoga. Scott said when he lived in residence a bus pass would have been ideal.

“At times I felt helpless,” he said.

For current students the change may not come into effect until after they graduate. Despite this, third-year business management student Adam Sawicki wants the best for future students.

“I wish CSI would have done this three years ago,” he said.

GRT is undergoing a major expansion, with more employees being hired and buses being added every year. This will likely result in improved service in and around Conestoga. However, a potential U-pass remains a controversial issue for CSI as it will impact prospective students and how they decide to get to school.

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