SAITSA looks for changes to the U-Pass
With the next contract negotiation of the U-Pass swiftly approaching this summer, the question has been raised as to what the future of the pass will look like.
The U-Pass agreement between SAIT and the City of Calgary is negotiated every two years, with the next round scheduled for June 2012.
The SAIT Students’ Association made contact with Mayor Naheed Nenshi earlier this year, when they sent him a proposal of the changes they would like to see made to the U-Pass agreement.
SAITSA president Steven Hildebrand said Nenshi was happy to receive the proposal as an option working within the current framework.
“We’d like to see the student-pass rate cut and have more students be included to keep it revenue-neutral,” said Hildebrand.
The proposal had to be held off due to other transit planning in the city, but when they later make their decisions, Nenshi told Hildebrand that they would definitely keep the proposal in mind.
The proposal mainly concentrates on two issues that students have with the U-Pass at present—price and eligibility.
Currently, only students classified as “full-time” are eligible to receive the U-Pass. Full-time students are defined as SAIT students attending at least nine hours of classes on campus per week for the duration of a 15-week semester.
As per these guidelines, some students in apprenticeships, who are on practicum, who have fewer than 15 weeks in a given semester, or who are taking less than the required hours are not eligible for the U-Pass.
This rule applies to all the schools in the city that offer the U-Pass system, as well as schools in Edmonton that have a similar program.
Each school, however, has a different view of what qualifies a “full-time” student, and is allowed to define it as they see fit. Most appear to have a similar definition as SAIT.
In addition to changing exactly who is eligible for the U-Pass, SAITSA would also like to see the cost of the pass cut.
“[The price of the U-Pass] has increased by just over 300 per cent in the last 10 years. It’s unsustainable and when there are increases, it’s not in line with the rest of transit prices going up,” said Hildebrand.
SAITSA hopes to tie in the cost of the U-Pass to the regular transit pass, so that it would move up and down with what regular citizens are paying.
This price cut would also work well in conjunction with the proposed increase of students who are eligible for the pass, since more students paying for the pass would even out the overall cost.
SAIT has worked with the City of Calgary to provide its students with the U-Pass since 2001, after the majority of the student body voted in favour of implementing it.
When it started at SAIT, the U-Pass cost eligible students a mere $35 a semester, compared to the $110 a semester students pay now.
Hildebrand said he is hopeful about the next contract negotiations, and thinks there will be some positive changes in the future.