Archive for June 10th, 2010

U-Pass program offered to more students in Metro Vancouver, across B.C. Will Transit Fares soon increase?

June 10, 2010

Gordon Campbell is in trouble, the HST fiasco is as close to a ‘pitchfork‘ rebellion as one can get, so to increase his popularity he must buy off voters and in a classic Campbell downloading taxes onto the poor announcement has declared a universal U-Pass to all post secondary students. The problem is, the region has a $8 billion gold plated metro system that sucks in a vast amount of taxpayers dollars, including an off the top $230 million annual subsidy from the provincial government even before TransLink shells out cash to SkyTrain and RAV, plus a cash starved bus system.

The U-Pass, first conceived in Seattle to put student ‘bums‘ on empty bus seats, has now become TransLink’s modus operandi in claiming record ridership on the regional transit system. Trouble is, the U-Pass offers very little money to maintain both the bus and metro systems. A $30 monthly U-Pass, roughly equates to a $1 a day for transit and depending on how the fare is apportioned (if indeed it is apportioned) between SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus and the bus system could be as little as 33¢ a day for the metro system and even less if the U-Pass is used more than twice a day!

Example: A student in Richmond or south Delta, taking transit to UBC must take a bus to RAV, then take another bus to UBC, with each mode being apportioned 33¢ a day for usage. We do not know the funding formula for the RAV Line, but if rumours hold true that TransLink pays the RAV consortium a flat fee of $2 per passenger, then the U-Pass is creating a deficit of $1.67 per student per day of those students using the new metro! What this means is that TransLink will hemorrhage money, which must be made up by increasing fares, student tuitions and the TransLink property tax, thus making transit more expensive to use for those of us so unlucky not to be subsidized by the government!

The students euphoria over the universal U-Pass maybe short lived as already at capacity buses pass up more and more people and the metro lines cutting back services, due to revenue shortfalls. The transit system will continue to be unattractive to the car driver , with overcrowded trains and buses, thus making our regional transit system just one for the poor, the elderly and students, which is a signal that the public transit system is in very serious trouble.

Full trains and buses means nothing, if the Transit system collapses due to lack of funds!

U-Pass program offered to more students in Metro Vancouver, across B.C.

By Stephen Thomson

Post-secondary students in Metro Vancouver and across B.C. are being offered access to a universal transit pass program already in place at a dozen colleges and universities.

Premier Gordon Campbell announced today (June 9) that the remaining 15 publicly funded institutions in the province that are not already part of a U-Pass program will be able to sign on.

In Metro Vancouver, that gives students the chance to pay $30 a month for system-wide access starting this fall, down from the $81 it would otherwise cost. But students at each school would first have to vote to join the program.

According to the province, the monthly U-Pass rates at Simon Fraser University ($26) and the University of B.C. ($24) will stay the same until at least September 2011. As well, the monthly rates at Langara College ($38) and Capilano University ($32) will both be lowered to $30 in September.

Campbell said the program would make transit use more affordable for 430,000 post-secondary students in the province.

“I think it’s a significant value for institutions around the Lower Mainland and around the province,” Campbell told a crowd gathered for the announcement today at Vancouver Community College, one of the schools that does not yet offer a U-Pass.

The plan also has support from student advocates who have been calling for an expanded program.

Nimmi Takkar, B.C. chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, said the provincewide plan is unique in Canada.

“A whole new generation of students are about to experience a college and university system where access to affordable transit and supporting sustainability is a part of their daily lives,” Takkar said.

Transportation Minister Shirley Bond described the arrangement as a “student-led initiative”.

The province has committed $20 million over the next three years toward providing the U-Pass in Metro Vancouver, and “funding as required” to keep the monthly cost below $30 elsewhere in the province.