New Push for the U-Pass

Last year the stage was set for a U-pass in Ottawa. The orchestra was primed to play a wonderful sonata: the SFUO and the University of Ottawa were ready to put forward the money and administration to get things rolling. The actors had rehearsed their lines: City council and OC Transpo had a plan laid out before them. And at the pivotal moment as the show was about to start, the audience collectively held their breath. But the curtains never opened, the spotlights never lit up, and everyone was just told to go home... no show tonight ladies and gentlemen.

Well one year later and everyone is back for another show. Once again there is an opportunity to provide students at the University of Ottawa with a fare-reduced bus pass. But there are a couple of differences in this year’s campaign that are worth mentioning, and are turning heads over at City Hall.

The first major change is the cost. The Student Federation is pushing for a new $145 price tag for the pass. The kicker is that the notion is backed by OC Transpo, which was the biggest point of contention between the two groups last year. This is an extremely pleasing development for the City; many councillors agreed that they were in favour of a U-Pass but couldn’t reconcile the price.

The second major point is the fact that CUSA is also on board. That’s right; the Carleton Undergraduate Student Association is running a referendum to also have the pass. That means that approximately 50,000 students would be eligible for the pass. This is also a very attractive development for the City.

This makes for the potential of a pretty exciting show; however there are still some hurdles. City Council still has to vote for the program. Although this push for the pass has all the trappings of a great deal for the City, it is budget season and there is no accounting for where the program could end up. The City might just not want to have to burden the potential budgetary constraints. Then there is the fact that the student federations still have to pass a referendum vote. And finally there is a need to establish an agreement with STO to make sure that the U-Pass is honoured on both sides of the river.

All this aside, I believe that this is the best chance for a pass in years. And the supporters of the program are looking for your help. A clever website has been set up that allows individuals to send a letter to their councillors demanding a Universal Bus Pass (I say clever because the site not only e-mails your councillor but all City councillors as well). So if you would, take a moment to visit the site and send off a letter, you might be helping turn the tide for transit in this City.

www.u-passottawa.ca

-jon

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