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Jeff Mills

Students’ Union pushes for change to student transit fines

By Fabian Mayer, March 21 2016 —

Forgetful students fined for riding the train without their UPass may soon be able to get out of paying if the Students’ Union is successful in its push to change the bylaw regulating transit fines.

Students’ Union president Levi Nilson sent a letter — also signed by University of Calgary provost Dru Marshall — to city councillors urging them to look at the bylaw that penalizes students if they are unable to present their UPass while riding transit.

“Right now if somebody is caught on transit without their UPass on them they’re liable for a $250 fine,” Nilson said. “They can go to the court and fight it but they can only get it down to $150.”

The SU is attempting to change the rules so students have recourse if they forget their UPass and are fined.

“We’re trying to change it so there can be a discretionary period of 24–48 hours where somebody can go down to the court, show that they’ve already paid for their transit pass and get the fine revoked,” Nilson said.

SU faculty of law representative Mark Shearer first brought the idea to Nilson.

“I work with Student Legal Assistance at the faculty of law and so I’ve worked on quite a few files where it’s C-train tickets for students,” Shearer said.

He said in all cases he dealt with, students simply left their UPass somewhere or forgot it in another bag, winding up with a hefty fine.

Nilson himself was fined after forgetting his UPass at home. Even after his girlfriend brought it to show transit officers before they had written the ticket, he was still fined.

“As soon as Mark [Shearer] brought it to me I immediately understood how narrow it was and how much of a burden $250 can be,” Nilson said.

Nilson has meetings with councillors and Calgary Transit later this month to discuss the proposed changes. He doesn’t believe potential lost revenue for the city will be an issue.

“The response has been very receptive so far,” Nilson said. “The intent of fining people isn’t to prosecute people who have already paid.”

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