By Sean Willett, July 14 2017 —
Students returning to the University of Calgary will have to pay more to get around the city next semester.
The UPass is increasing in price from $130 to $140 per semester starting this fall — the result of a negotiation between Calgary Transit and post-secondary institutions that took place in early 2016 and will see the cost of the UPass rise to $151 by 2019.
The UPass is a mandatory non-instructional fee for full-time students at Calgary’s major post-secondary institutions. It is designed to allow students to use the city’s transit services at a reduced rate.
When contacted, Calgary Transit declined to provide an explanation for the fee hike. Previously, Calgary Transit has justified UPass price increases by pointing to rising operational costs and the need to meet revenue requirements set by the City of Calgary.
Students’ Union vice-president external Shubir Shaikh said the price increase was spurred by increased ridership among UPass holders.
“It’s really one main reason, and it’s the increase in ridership,” Shaikh said. “It’s how they determine the fees for all Calgary schools, not just the U of C.”
The price for the UPass is set during negotiations between Calgary post-secondary institutions and Calgary Transit. Student organizations like the SU are not involved in this negotiation process.
“We wish we were, though,” said Shaikh. “A student voice in those negotiations would be important.”
The SU wants increased transit costs to come with an increase in transit quality and are advocating city council candidates for more frequent service to the U of C ahead of the October municipal election.
“We’re already meeting with municipal election candidates and campaigning them to increase Calgary Transit services around the university,” Shaikh said. “We also want an increase in frequency. In off-peak hours we really don’t see the same level of service, and students have classes and events all throughout the day.”
The SU is also advocating for more transit routes between the U of C and newer communities.
“Nolan Hill, for example, isn’t that far away from the university,” Shaikh said. “But it can take up to 50 minutes to travel there by transit. Since the UPass is a compulsory fee, we’d like a better value for what we’re paying.”
With the September price increase, the cost of the UPass will rise to $35 a month. This is less expensive than Calgary Transit’s standard monthly passes, which cost $101. However, Calgary Transit’s new sliding scale low-income passes cost $5.05 for those who make less than $12,474 — the lowest bracket available. Students who fall within this bracket will pay $29.95 more a month for transit through the UPass than they would through a low-income pass.
UPass prices in other parts of Canada vary. The University of Ottawa’s pass costs $197.52 a semester, while students at the University of Victoria pay $81 a semester.