Vote to keep the U-Pass

The U-Pass program is valuable to students and we must vote to keep it

Courtesy of Angelina Theilmann

Courtesy of Angelina Theilmann

I’m a BCIT student who uses the U-Pass to the point of exhaustion. And I’ll sure appreciate if the pass doesn’t go the way of dial-up Internet as a result of the BCIT’s current U-Pass referendum.

Like many BCIT students, I am one of the lower-mainland dwellers for whom transit makes sense.

Whether it’s bussing to the Tsawassen ferry terminal, skytraining to see family in Richmond, or sea-bussing to North Van, U-Pass has my back.

So, for me (and my transit-centric colleagues), whether BCIT students continue to support the U-Pass program is the difference between an extra $140 per month to cover my transit costs.

That’s right: A three-zone transit pass costs $170 per month. And yet, the U-Pass, which covers those same bases, costs BCIT students a piddly $30 per month. It’s sort of a modern-day student miracle.

To put this in perspective, my monthly U-Pass costs the same as a third of an average tank of gas. I pay the same amount regardless of how much I travel in the Lower Mainland that month.

During the 2011 edition of the referendum, 3, 367 students voted. An overwhelming 85 per cent wanted the program to stay.

It’s not too surprising — in many schools the program has been an overwhelming success.[pullquote]”Losing the U-Pass would be a huge disservice to BCIT students.”[/pullquote]

At UBC, the U-Pass program attracted many more users than TransLink initially foresaw, to the point that TransLink may actually be losing money on their U-Pass deal. And UBC’s 2013 referendum saw upwards of 95 per cent of voters cast their ballots in favour or keeping it as part of student fees.

Hopefully BCIT’s 2013 referendum will have similar results.

Students pay for a variety of things at BCIT with student fees, and it’s natural that not everyone will take advantage of everything they have access to — U-Pass included. Considering this, it’s interesting that students even get a say as to whether or not a service stays.

For example, I never use the weight room, but I know lots who do. I haven’t touched the pool at BCIT Marine Campus, either. Nonetheless, my student fees go to maintain these facilities.

The campus pub is trying out a vegetarian deepfryer. If demand is demonstrated, thousands of dollars could be spent to renovate the pub kitchen to permanently install it. Meat-eaters might not care, but I bet vegetarians do.

So hey, because fees cover all sorts of BCIT amenities, options exist if needs change. If I become vegetarian, buy a car, decide to get buff, or want to practice treading water, I may shift my usage of BCIT services.

And the U-Pass is just one more service that students may or may not use.  The difference is that it’s a service actively asking students to vote on its fate.

And drivers: Maybe on principle you want the $30 per month back. But the fee is not a total loss for you: You are paying to keep cars off the roads.

So maybe you care about the U-Pass and maybe you don’t. But just like watching the gym or weight-room disappear at BCIT, losing this service would be a huge disservice to many BCIT students.

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