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UPass prices slated to rise 16 per cent by 2019

By Scott Strasser, January 26 2016 —

Students starting their degrees will likely see a substantially pricier UPass by their senior year, as Calgary Transit and the University of Calgary  discuss price increases for the service through 2019.

The UPass recently increased  from $125 to $130 for the winter 2016 semester. According to Calgary Transit, the price should remain frozen until September 2017.

But the UPass could see a $10 price jump in September 2017, putting it at $140. By the fall of 2019, it may cost as much as $151 per semester.

Students’ Union vice-president external Romy Garrido said the pass is gradually becoming less affordable for students. She criticized the lack of student consultation regarding UPass price hikes.

“It’s disappointing to see the city taking advantage of this mandatory non-instructional fee,” Garrido said. “There’s nothing students can do about it. It’s something the university negotiates with Calgary Transit and we’re kind of left out.”

The price of the UPass is determined by student surveys and ridership counts.

If the proposed rates are approved, the UPass will rise from $117 to $151 between 2013 and 2019.

“We’re still getting a significant discount,” Garrido said. “But that begs the question, ‘what’s the limit?’ At one point does it become unaffordable for students?”

The UPass isn’t the only transit fare increasing in price. By 2018, adult monthly passes may rise from $99 to $107 per month. The low-income pass could go from $44 to $53.50 per month.

“Fare price increases are required to offset Calgary Transit’s increased operating costs and to generate enough revenue to help us provide transit services at the same or improved levels,” said Ron McKendrick, Calgary Transit’s manager of operational planning, in a statement.

Calgary Transit conducts surveys to gauge how many students use their services. Garrido, who was surveyed while in line for her UPass, questioned the viability of these surveys.

“If they’re surveying students who are picking up their sticker, it’s likelier those students use transit regularly,” she said. “If they’re surveying students in the parking lot, I’m sure students there would have a different answer to how often they use Calgary Transit.”

At $130 per semester, Calgary’s UPass is relatively inexpensive when compared to other Canadian cities. Vancouver students currently pay about $152 each semester, while Ottawa has one of the most expensive UPass programs at $195 per semester.

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