September 28, 2020

By HEATHER STANLEY

After a long wait, Conestoga College students may finally get discounted bus passes.

According to the Waterloo Region Record, Waterloo regional council is debating whether it is financially feasible to offer Conestoga’s 11,000 full-time students a universal pass in 2016. The U-Pass is currently used by students at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Students at Waterloo and Laurier pay $81 for a semester-long pass that allows them to use GRT buses to travel around Kitchener-Waterloo as well as Cambridge and Elmira. The cost is included in their tuition. Contrasting this, Conestoga students pay $218 for the same privilege. That’s $137 more per term, a cost which many are deeming unfair.

Students at the college have been pushing for cheaper rates for years. Many were disappointed when regional council first denied Conestoga students’ demand for the U-Pass in 2011. In 2013, another proposal was put forth by Conestoga Students Inc. after a student referendum the previous year showed students would use the service, but it went nowhere.

Jeff Scherer, CSI president, said in an interview with the Record that the pass has to go hand-in-hand with extended bus service. Many buses are so overcrowded that students sometimes get left behind, making them late for classes.

Currently buses run every half-hour, excluding rush hour, on half a dozen routes for both the Doon and Cambridge campuses. Students at Conestoga live all across the region, and 70 to 75 per cent of them stay in the region after they graduate, unlike university students.

A U-Pass and more buses would make travelling to the school more accessible and affordable. Also, Conestoga is home to many middle-class and lower-income students whereas those from universities tend to come from higher income families. Not only would the pass create more fairness between the post-secondary schools in K-W, but it would make the lives of college students a little easier.

If a U-Pass is offered at Conestoga in 2016, students will pay $162 for the school year, the same as university students, saving them $274. But the bigger bonus will be more buses and better service.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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