November 20, 2019
Students board the bus at Conestoga College in March 2019. (Kirsten Kitto/Spoke)

Sept.16, 2019 – The price of the U-pass for Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University students is $201.4 cheaper annually, than the discounted bus pass for Conestoga College students. 

In October 2018, Conestoga students voted on whether the “U-Pass” should be implemented, a bus pass available under Grand River Transit for full time students, which would be a mandatory fee included in tuition. 

According to an article posted on Spoke Online in 2018, Conestoga College tweeted “Of the 3,950 votes, 2,293 were in favour of implementing the U-Pass and 1,656 were not in favour of implementing the U-Pass.”

Although the vote passed within the student body, proper paperwork had yet to be filled out and the provincial government cancelled the program for the current school year.

So, where does that leave Conestoga bus riders? 

Erine Chapelle, a first-year student in the International Bachelor of Management program at Conestoga said, “When you see how many other international students we have, you think it would be a better price, and it’s unfair because we don’t have a car.” 

A four-month bus pass now costs $300 per semester.

Meanwhile, Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University have been using the U-Pass program for over ten years. The pass is included within their tuition and costs 101.07$ per semester for UW students. 

“In 2005, a Universal Bus Pass program (U-Pass) was implemented at WLU,” said the Grand River Transit Business Plan for 2017-2021. “This program provides all students with unlimited use of the GRT system at a heavily discounted semester fee paid by each student. In 2007, a similar U-Pass program was implemented at the UW.”

The transit business plan said the U-Pass has been successful and “has proven to generate large increases in ridership.” 

What has taken Conestoga so long to join the program, and why is our current pass so much more expensive? 

“The U-Pass cost is lower than cost of other passes based on a volume discount being provided to all potential users in the particular group buying the pass. All students purchase the pass no matter how much use they make of the pass and so a lower price can be offered,” said GRT Development Supervisor Blair Allen via email. 

Allen continued, “The U-Pass proposal for the college was also lower based on the same principal. The price of a U-Pass was based on providing an equivalent amount of revenue to what would occur without a U-Pass in place.” 

So, until Conestoga students can agree to have the U-Pass as a mandatory fee and proper paperwork has been filed, it looks like $300 is where the price will stay.   

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