Kwantlen students doubt benefits of the U-Pass
Ragnar Haagen, ctvbc.ca
Published Saturday, September 4, 2010 2:58PM PDT
Students at one Metro Vancouver university are wondering why they should opt into the U-Pass program when they can get to school faster by foot than on the bus.
In June, the provincial government announced that it would expand the student transit pass program to include post-secondary schools across the Lower Mainland, contributing $20 million over the next three years to cover the program.
But at some Kwantlen University campuses, limited bus service means that students may be forced to pay for a service that won't benefit them.
To illustrate this point, Kwantlen students raced the bus on bike and on foot along the 19-kilometre journey between the school's Surrey and Langley campuses.
The first person to make it to Langley was the bike, which finished the course in less than one hour. Surprisingly enough, the person crossing finish line second was 27-year-old long distance runner David Palermo.
The student who rode the bus came in third, finishing 13 minutes behind Palermo – but only because she missed her scheduled transfer and had to walk the rest of the way.
This example shows what students deal with on a daily basis, according to Jennifer Campbell, student council director from Kwantlen's Langley campus.
"Many second and third year students have classes that are spread over different campuses, some even on the same day, and they can't rely on transit schedules to ensure they're on time for class."
Ben Newsome, Kwantlen's U-Pass representative thinks the vote may split down the middle between the four campuses. "Right now, it looks like the Surrey and Richmond campuses are in favour of the pass, and Langley and Cloverdale are not."
Newsome says students will hold a vote on the U-Pass sometime in October, and depending on those results, it can come into effect as early as January.
Meanwhile, the school is still in ongoing discussions with TransLink to iron out more details.
"So far, there is no option for students to opt out, but we are discussing other options for students that don't want the pass," said Newsome.
If the vote does go through, student fees would go up by $30 per month, and that cost will rise to $35 per month in April 2013.
Kwantlen has said it will waive the fee for students with disabilities who already have their own bus pass.