Friday, October 24, 2008

Doucet calls for rail along Carling

An article in Nepean This Week explained Capital Councillor Clive Douvet's concerns with running light rail along the Ottawa River Parkway: Namely that it would take to long to extend service into Kanata, and that not enough communities are served along the Parkway. His suggested alternative is Carling Avenue, which Doucet claims cuts through a community of 300,000 people and will bring rail to Kanata within five years.

To do so, Doucet says that the city would be able to close three major intersections along Carling, and gate (close when a train is passing by) whatever others remain. Bay Councillor and chairman of the Transit Committee Alex Cullen said that Doucet's idea is "nonsense" and that "Gating doesn't work." Cullen also said that the westbound route has already been decided:
But council rejected the Carling alternative last May when it voted 20-4 in favour of its current rapid transit plan, said Cullen.

“He’s trying to reopen the debate and delay things further on a proposal that’s already (been called) impractical,” he said.
Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson said that Doucet's trying to do too much at once.
“He wants to build east, west, tunnel, Carling and south all at once,” she [Wilksinon] said. “We don’t have that money. We don’t have $3 billion – and that’s a $3-billion job.”

To solicit public support for his proposal, Doucet is releasing a series of radio spots and will have a press conference on Nov. 17.

We'll see how all this goes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Will people leave buses when gas goes down?

A few months ago, when gas prices were skyrocketing, everyone seemed to be leaving their cars behind in favour of public transit (see two past articles for more: here and here). Ridership in Ottawa has not only hit record-highs, but has been growing at record levels. The United States hit a 50-year high in public-transit use back in March, attributed to high gas prices.

But is the opposite true: When gas prices go back down, as they have in the Ottawa area over the last few weeks, do people abandon mass transit and return to their cars? According to at least one source--Salt Lake City's KSL Newsmedia--it's unlikely.

From the story:
"Soaring fuel prices prompted a lot of people to park their cars and take mass transit. But now gas prices are hovering near $3.00 a gallon, and a few may be feeling the temptation to get back behind the wheel.

"UTA doesn't expect a lot of its riders will go back to cars, even with two fuel surcharges that are still in place. Many commuters who spoke with us agreed."

Hard to say whether or not public transit use in Ottawa will follow the same trends as that in Salt Lake City, but the hope is that momentum gained with increased ridership will continue.

Public Transit ... in America

TransitOttawa has taken the show on the road. We are travelling across the United States, observing -- among other things -- various public-transit systems around the country.

Expect some pictures, brief comments, and maybe even snide remarks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How high are Ottawa bus fares?

On Monday, the Ottawa Citizen published a letter from a local resident, who claimed that OC Transpo is "pricing out of the market the very people who most need the service". But how high is the cost of public transit in Ottawa, compared to other major cities in Canada?

To find out, I've looked up a few different services in the ten largest Canadian metropolitan areas (CMAs), according to StatsCan's Canada 2006 Census: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa/Gatineau (which I've split into two), Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and London (from most to least populated). Those people "who most need the service" would, I imagine, include students and the elderly. Here's what I found for costs, as of October 2008, under several categories, from least to most expensive:

Regular adult single-trip cash fare:

  1. Winnipeg: $2.25

  2. Hamilton: $2.40

  3. Calgary: $2.50

  4. Edmonton: $2.50

  5. London: $2.50

  6. Vancouver: $2.50*

  7. Quebec City: $2.60

  8. Toronto: $2.75

  9. Montreal: $2.75

  10. Ottawa: $3.00

  11. Gatineau: $3.15

* - Vancouver has three 'zones'; this fare (and all others presented below) is for travel within one zone.

So the two services within the Ottawa/Gatineau metropolitan area have the highest per-trip cash fares among the top ten CMAs. Although some cities (including Toronto and Montreal) offer reduced single-trip fares for students and seniors, Ottawa does not. There are discounts for monthly passes, however, as demonstrated below.

Adult monthly transit pass:

  1. Montreal: $66.25

  2. Edmonton: $66.50

  3. Winnipeg: $71.25

  4. Quebec City: $71.55

  5. Vancouver: $73.00

  6. London: $74.00*

  7. Gatineau: $74.00

  8. Calgary: $75.00

  9. Hamilton: $79.00

  10. Ottawa: $81.00

  11. Toronto: $109.00

* - London cost is for CitiPass; a weekday pass is $63.00.

Although Gatineau is pretty much middle-of-the-pack for monthly pass costs, Ottawa has the second-most expensive price for a monthly pass--ahead of only the country's most substantial transit system, Toronto.

Post-secondary student monthly transit pass:

  1. London: $12.00*

  2. Edmonton: $23.63**

  3. Gatineau: $51.50***

  4. Winnipeg: $57.00

  5. Ottawa: $62.65

  6. London: $64.00

  7. Montreal: $66.25

  8. Quebec City: $71.55

  9. Vancouver: $73.00

  10. Calgary: $75.00

  11. Toronto: $91.25
* - Undergraduate students at the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College pay $96.00 for 8- and 12-month passes, respectively. The cost of $12 is based on the 8-month pass for UWO undergrad students.
** - Edmonton's U-Pass costs students of the University of Alberta and MacEwan College $94.50 per term (roughly $23.63 per month, although U of A's is university-subsidized to $78.75 per term).
*** - In Gatineau, students over 20 have to pay the full $74.00 monthly cost.

Ottawa and Gatineau fare much better (pun intended) with regards to student passes. Ottawa students are also able to purchase a semester pass for $232.25, or roughly $58.06 per month. Should OC Transpo and the city's budget committee agree with the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa's (SFUO) bid for a $125-per-semester U-Pass, the monthly expense would be roughly $31.25--almost half what is charged today.

Senior (65+) monthly bus pass:

  1. Calgary: $2.92*

  2. Edmonton: $11.50

  3. Hamilton: $17.08**

  4. Ottawa: $30.40

  5. Quebec City: $32.95

  6. Gatineau: $33.50

  7. Winnipeg: $35.65

  8. Montreal: $36.00

  9. Vancouver: $42.00

  10. London: $52.50

  11. Toronto: $91.25
* - Calgary offers a yearly pass for seniors for $35.00, or roughly $2.92 a month. Low-income Calgary seniors only pay a mind-bogglingly low $15.00 per year ($1.25 a month).
** - Hamilton price based on a $205 annual pass for seniors.

Although Ottawa/Gatineau costs look almost criminal when compared to that of Calgary, they are still pretty low overall, and almost a third of the cost in Toronto. And recently, the transit committee agreed to lower the Annual Senior Pass by 8.1 per cent, which--if my math serves correctly--works out to roughly $27.94 per month.

Although Ottawa's regular adult cash fare is pretty high, cost breaks for students and seniors are significant. Another thing that must be kept in mind is the service offered--I can't comment on how thorough the transit systems in the other CMAs because I haven't travelled on them significantly, but Ottawa has a system which--despite its warts--many other city commuters envy.

Ride for a quarter Oct. 29, and other promotions

OC Transpo is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Transitway with a few special events, including a promotional reduced-fare of $0.25 for all of October 29. Here are a some other celebrations:
  • Monday, Oct. 27, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., Lincoln Fields Station:
    Special Guests; Anniversary bus unveiling; Tree planting; Music; Refreshments; Giveaways
  • Tuesday, Oct. 28, 7 to 8:30 a.m., Place d’Orléans Station:
    Decorated anniversary bus; Refreshments; Giveaways
  • Wednesday, Oct. 29, 7 to 8:30 a.m., Baseline Station:
    25¢ fare all day on all routes (excluding Para Transpo); Decorated anniversary bus; Refreshments; Giveaways
  • Thursday, Oct. 30, 7 to 8:30 a.m., Tunney’s Pasture Station:
    Special countdown to 1.5 billionth rider Decorated anniversary bus; Refreshments; Giveaways
  • Friday, Oct. 31, 7 to 8:30 a.m. Hurdman Station:
    Decorated anniversary bus; Refreshments; Giveaways; Transitway Memories contest winner announced on

That Transitway Memories contest, just to remind you, is looking for the best story from a rider, with the grand prize of an annual bus pass. Click here for full contest details.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ottawa's outdoor stadium debate

It may not deal directly with public transit in Ottawa, but the ongoing debate around an outdoor stadium is certainly affected by, and going to affect, public transit in Ottawa. There are two competing bids: The first to be announced was that of Eugene Melnyk, who is in the process of pitching for a Major League of Soccer (MLS) franchise to go into a to-be-built, "soccer-first" stadium on vacant land near the Scotiabank Place in Kanata. The second, announced on Friday, Oct. 17, is that of Jeff Hunt and the ownership group which was given a conditional Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise, pending a suitable football stadium in the city, to reinvigorate Lansdowne Park and the surrounding area. Both bids have pros, and both have cons, as well.

Ideally, should Melnyk be awarded an MLS franchise, that squad's stadium could accomodate any future CFL team, because quite frankly two world-class outdoor stadiums in this city would be superfluous. If Melnyk weren't to win an MLS franchise, his plans for a stadium would go by the wayside, and the city would likely proceed in consultation with the Hunt bid.

Immediately, given the city's planning policy directions to intensify development in the city's core, the Hunt bid should have a leg up on the Melnyk bid. However, the picture is not so clear. Here is a synopsis of the two bids, including the goals of each one, and the pros and cons associated with them.

Bring The World to Ottawa (the Melnyk bid)

(Click image for larger version; click here for official website photo gallery)

Eugene Melnyk's bid includes, obviously, a world-class soccer stadium which, as Melnyk said in a press release, "needs to be a sophisticated hosting venue providing our community with the ability to attract major international sporting events, outdoor concerts and festivals to the nation’s capital." To that end, the stadium would include an outdoor stage in the south-west end of the pitch, and seating around the other three sides. Parking for the stadium would, in all likelihood, piggyback on existing parking lots already present for Scotiabank Place, although it would be a bit of a hike and most spots would require crossing Palladium Drive to reach the soccer stadium. Given the incredible growth in Kanata as a result of Scotiabank Place's construction, it would be reasonable to assume further development as a result of a second professional sports facility in the immediate area. Seating would be designed to be between 20,000 and 30,000.

  1. More than 7,000 parking spots nearby
  2. Not occupying public space
  3. "Synergy" with neighbouring Scotiabank Place / Ottawa Senators
  4. Solid management reputation of Eugene Melnyk, who would be owner of the soccer team
  5. Twenty-six luxury suites
  6. Natural grass field measuring 65m by 105m designed to MLS and FIFA specifications but convertible to football and rugby specs
  7. Will incorporate Scotiabank Place into a professional-sports area, possibly encouraging intensified development in the area.

  1. Not in the City of Ottawa's core
  2. Requires significant automotive commuting or transit infrastructure
  3. Little entertainment/dining in the immediate area (i.e. restaurants, bars, shops)
  4. Not walking distance from existing high-density, multi-use residential/commercial land
  5. City of Ottawa would give up ownership of land
Lansdowne Live! (the Hunt bid)

(Click image for larger version; click here for official website photo gallery)

The bid from Jeff Hunt, in cooperation with business leaders Bill Shenkman, Roger Greenberg, and John Ruddy, focuses on a world-class football stadium, convertible to rugby or soccer and concert venue, with surrounding re-development. Although the stadium itself is a large part, it would be surrounded with public soccer pitches, a skateboard park, an ultimate frisbee field, ponds, greenery, and a state-of-the-art public aquarium with walk-through plexiglass tunnels, and some retail and residential development (all in place of parking lots currently surrounding Frank Clair Stadium). As for the stadium, it would call for virtually complete retrofitting or rebuilding of the current stadium, focussing on increasing comfort in dressing rooms and player/performer accomodations, concessions, washrooms, and restaurants in the stadium. The field itself would be designed for football, but could be converted to soccer or other sports. Expandable end zones designed for an 'intimate experience' and permission from the CFL to consider natural grass turf would mean that an MLS franchise could, hypothetically, also use the stadium. Seating estimates are pegged at 24,000 to 25,000.


  1. Centrally located and easily accessible
  2. Includes plans to revitalize currently underused city-owned public space
  3. "Synergy" with neighbouring Civic Centre / Ottawa 67s
  4. Solid management reputation of Jeff Hunt, who would be Managing Partner and Governor of the football team
  5. Fifty luxury suites
  6. Includes renovation of Civic Centre
  7. Converts single-use parking lots into multi-use development
  8. Channels money currently used for maintenance of dilapidated stadium into investment towards new stadium
  9. City would retain ownership of land and stadium and would collect income from leases

  1. Limited parking, and necessity to build garages
  2. Concerns of eliminated/reduced public and green space
  3. Includes privatisation of some public space
  4. Somewhat dependent on re-introducing a franchise which has failed twice in a decade
  5. City would be responsible for rebuidling stadium, although ownership group would pay for maintenance

Friday, October 17, 2008

How far is too far with advertising?

An article in the New York Times explored the many forms advertising can take within public transit, from standard bus and shelter posters (as Ottawa has lots of) through to just about every inch of physical space in a transit station, including 'video' ads on the walls of subway tunnels. These tunnel ads are described in the Times story:
"Starting next spring with the 42nd Street-Times Square shuttle, passengers will see advertising outside the windows as the train travels between stations. The messages will look rather like jumpy 15-second TV ads.

"The tunnel advertising is part of an ambitious Metropolitan Transportation Authority plan to convert much of its real estate into advertising space. In addition to the tunnel ads, it will sell space on turnstiles, digital screens inside stations, projections against subway station walls, and panels on the outside of subway cars."
Personally, I don't really like advertising in public spaces, but I understand that the money it can bring in comes in handy when budgeting--thus balancing the detriment of disturbing mental and visual peace with a benefit of (hypothetically) lower fares for customers. However, there seems an obvious difference between relatively benign poster or billboard ads and dynamic, illuminated, moving-picture advertisements which throws a wrench into the balancing act.

How do readers feel about advertising generally in public spaces, and specifically in public transit spaces?

Transitway work on track

According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen about work on Ottawa's highway 417 and the Transitway extension, construction in and around Bayshore Mall is on track:

"Work on the ramp and Richmond Road, part of the expansion of the Transitway, has gone well, Mr. [Brian] Wadden [the city's project manager] said.

"The project completion date is not until 2009, he said, but the contractor expects to get all the concrete work done this year and that would leave next year for work on the Transitway itself."

To see some photos of the project, check out this post and the Flickr badge on the left sidebar.

According to the story, the Transitway extension from Bayshore to Pinecrest Road will take place in March-August 2009, during which time buses will continue to use the Queensway to travel that route.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

OC Transpo to increase service for '09

After the city announced the possibility of cutting service due to budgetary concerns for 2008, OC Transpo officials decided that an increase of service by 5.37 per cent is necessary for 2009 to keep up with growing demand, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

The Citizen said that the increase was part of OC Transpo's overall marketing plan:
The boost in service levels is part of the company's 2009 marketing plan, which is designed to help the company recover 50 per cent of its operating costs from fares, city council's goal for the company.

The company is going to try to encourage use of the system outside of rush hour by offering expanding family day pass opportunities, encourage the use of routes that don't use the transit way, and improve trip planning services.
Sounds like a good idea; as profitable as overflowing buses at peak times can be, I'm sure a lot of empty buses in the evenings cuts into that margin significantly.

Along with the service increases, OC Transpo is also planning a series of fare increases, as reported on TransitOttawa yesterday. Average fares are to increase by 7.5 per cent, with much of that coming from a 15 per cent increase in pre-paid ticket costs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

City Transit Committee passes UPass motion

I'll give you the bad news first.

As any reader likely realized, no liveblogging was able to occur, very unfortunately. I was told there would be wireless available in the Champlain Room at City Hall, however no connection was ever established. Great first impression, for the blog's newest reporter, I know.

Some good news did come out of that committee chamber, however. The Transit Committee successfully passed a motion to launch the UPass pilot project at the University of Ottawa starting in September 2009, at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa-proposed price of $125.

As previously mentioned, U of O students supported the proposed $125-per-semester universal bus pass in February's referendum; the SFUO had hoped to stick to this price, at least for the time being. Any change in price would require another referendum to be presented to students.

Several councillors raised concerns over the proposed pilot project, including Innes Ward Councillor Rainer Bloess who worried the $125 price "was pulled out of thin air." SFUO President Dean Haldenby and U of O Sustainable Development Coordinator Jonathan Rausseo, who represented the U of O and its students at the committee, presented statistics from universities across the country that demonstrated Ottawa students—even at the disputed $125—would be paying one of the highest costs for a universal bus pass.

A $125 UPass will take away transit revenue from the City, and several councillors noted that they would have to find an extra $2.1 million from somewhere come budget time in December. The next hurdle for the U of O group, however, comes in the form of Nov. 12's Council meeting. Transit Committee Chair Alex Cullen expressed his hope and expectation that U of O students would continue to lobby councillors—they will need the support of at least 13 out of the total 24 at the Council meeting to continue with the project—and remain present at upcoming Council and Budget Committee meetings, in order to get this project off the ground.

Other points of interest at today's Transit Committee meeting:
  • Fare increases, the biggest of which include:
    • A 15% raise for regular bus tickets and 11.1% for O-Train tickets
    • An increase between 6.9% and 7.4% for various Ecopasses
  • And, interestingly, some fare decreases:
    • A 3.4% decrease in the price for a DayPass if purchased on the bus (will no longer be available anywhere else)
    • An 8.1% decrease in prices for the Annual Senior pass
  • An age cap on their student fares. It'll be interesting to see how they coordinate this with the UPass, since they're planning to allow student pricing only to those 24 and under. This would be effective for the 2009-10 academic year
  • Some new ad campaigns promoting off-peak service hours, including targeting hospital employees, airport workers, and post-secondary students by advertising "improved off-peak and all-night transit service"
The OC Transpo 2009 Marketing Plan, which covers the majority of items on today's Transit Committee agenda, is expected to be online soon. A full-length article on the latest surrounding the UPass at the University of Ottawa will be published in the Oct. 23 issue of the Fulcrum, which will be available at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Live Blog: Wednesday afternoon

October 15, early afternoon: the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) will make a presentation to the City of Ottawa's Transit Committee about a universal student bus pass, the U-Pass (read a primer here). Nick has been told that they've talked to all members of the committee and have received support, but the bigger obstacle, of course, will be the budget committee.

Newest contributor to TransitOttawa Emma Godmere will be exclusively live-blogging (at least I assume it will be exclusive) the presentation of the U-Pass to the City's Transit Committee Wednesday afternoon (the presentation is scheduled to begin at 1:30), so visit us to keep up to date on the response the SFUO's proposal gets.

City proposes route cuts to save money

Sometimes I just wonder. When ridership is at its highest, when public transit planning is a key policy issue for the city, when the city is trying to move towards promotion of using OC Transpo, the City of Ottawa is apparently considering drastic OC service cuts in order to curb city-wide fuel consumption.

A story in the Ottawa Sun published a report from city staff exploring the repercussions of attempting to cut fuel consumption by 25%. The nature of paying users means that the issue is not as clear as one might think:

"There would likely be a decrease in public transit ridership of between 10% and 15%. This would translate into a loss of 32,000 to 48,000 passengers per day," the report says. "Currently, OC Transpo relies on revenue for 50% of its operating budget. A loss in ridership of this magnitude would generate a substantial loss in revenue, which could further negatively impact the overall operations of the service."
Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made when trying to balance a budget, but this seems like a decision headed backwards. According to the Sun, the proposal includes the following measures:
  • Routes 45, 123, 137, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 147, 164, 165, 167, 179, 181, 186, 187, 188, 194, 193, 197 would be cut.
  • Service along the Transitway would be reduced by 25%.
  • Service to the rest of the city would also be reduced by 25%.
  • Morning service to Riverside South would be eliminated.
  • It recommends staff who use municipal vehicles plan efficient travel routes, use air conditioning sparingly, ensure tires are properly inflated, avoid idling, drive the speed limit, and avoid abrupt stop and starts.
  • Para Transpo uses 3% of fuel purchased by the city, while the O-Train uses 1%.
More information as it becomes available.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time to re-think transit's role in cities

An article in North-Central Connecticut's Journal-Inquirer had a plea for city planners and residents to re-think the role public transit plays in a city's development. Although the article deals with Hartford in particular, it can basically be linked to any city in the world--incuding Ottawa. Substituting a few words to "Ottawa" makes a certain point about what public transit can do for our city:
A good mass-transit system can mean the difference between a thriving metropolitan economy and a mediocre or dead one. With energy and environmental concerns around the world likely to get even more pressing in the years ahead, good mass transit will become more to a city’s comparative advantage. And with a recession and the current price of gasoline, even your average [Ottawa] suburbanite is starting to eye the bus. Could the family, he wonders, get by with one car instead of two?

Think of the great cities in America [or Canada] — Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco [Toronto]. Come up with your own list. All have great, or at least good, mass-transit systems.

We can only drill so much oil in the next five to 10 years.

We can only make so many hybrid cars in that time.

Is it time for revival of mass transit?

Is it time to invest in it?

Could it help [Ottawa] or greater [Ottawa]?

Could it even help create community, and save us from turning all of [Ottawa's greenbelt and suburbs] into a highway?

[Ottawan] people have never much liked mass transit. We have always preferred cars.

We’d have to change.
'Nuff said.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Got a (positive) OC story to tell?

As I recently read on the Metro website, the City is having a competition collecting happy stories about people's experience with OC Transpo to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Transitway. Here's the specs:

Stories of 500 words or fewer should be submitted online at or dropped off at any OC Transpo Sales and Information Centre. The contest closes at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24. For more information, visit

Prizes for the winning entries include an annual pass (valued at over $1000) for the grand prize, and monthly passes for runners up.

And if you've got other stories--good or bad--feel free to send them to for publication.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fed candidates say transit plan needs more rail

A little bit late on posting the news (okay, almost a month late), but the Ottawa Citizen reported that Ottawa-Orléans federal candidates Royal Galipeau (Conservative incumbent) and Marc Godbout (Liberal candidate) both stating that the current transit plan for Ottawa doesn't have enough rail included.

Mr. Galipeau, as quoted in the Citizen article:

"Buses are a Band-Aid solution. I think they're dead-set on buses. I don't think they really believe in light rail."
And Mr. Godbout, from the same article:

"We need long-term planning. ... Light rail, or a subway, should have been there, or at least planned, years ago."

They both suggest that light-rail should be extended to Orléans as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SFUO takes U-Pass lobby to City

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) is moving one step closer to convincing the City to approve a Universal Bus Pass for all undergraduate students at the school.

Last February, undergrads at the U of O voted overwhelmingly in favour of a $125 bus pass, paid once a semester by virtually all full-time students. Because the current price for a student bus pass for a semester is $232, the SFUO's offer would, if passed, constitute over $100 in savings each semester.

Ted Horton, a member of the SFUO's Board of Administration who has been very involved in the recent resurgence of the U-Pass, told TransitOttawa that the next step will be a presentation to Council's transit committee on Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m. in City Hall's Champlain Room.

Horton said that the SFUO has met with all of the committee members individually, and they are all generally supportive of the concept. Capital ward councillor Clive Doucet has been particularly cooperative, he added.

But the most difficult lobby won't be at the transit committee. It will be at the City's budget committee, where cost becomes the issue.

According to Horton, OC Transpo number crunchers offered a $198 pass to the SFUO. That number was based on the potential increased ridership and perceived changes to the school's modal split -- the number of people who commute to campus in single-occupancy vehicles versus the number who carpool, take public transit, bike, or walk.

OC Transpo has about 80 per cent of the U of O community taking the bus to campus. Horton challenged those numbers, and suggested that an SFUO study pegged the number of student transit users at closer to 60 per cent.

That means there are more potential users to cover the costs of the program, he said, so the $198 estimate could come down. Horton was unsure how low the City would go, but he was confident of the SFUO's proposition to justify $125.

While OC Transpo doesn't want to eat the costs of the U-Pass and run a deficit, the SFUO will urge the city to underwrite the cost of the program.

Horton said the City stands to benefit from the positive externalities generated by more students on buses: cleaner air, less congested roads, faster movement of people around the city, and better roads that demand less maintenance.

For his part, SFUO President Dean Haldenby said that the students will not budge from their offered price of $125. That is the mandate students gave their union, he said, and it's that or bust.

As the Charlatan article linked above mentions, the SFUO is working closely with the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) to lobby the city. CUSA will be at the presentation to the Transit Committee.

Horton noted that both Carleton's students and administration are on board with the idea, and CUSA plans to an awareness campaign and a referendum later this year.

UPDATE: The Charlatan's Heather Wallace writes about what she sees as a number of benefits provided by the U-Pass. She finishes, though, with this appeal to Canadian values:

"Canadians are often noted for their dedication to each other through health care, social insurance programs and government welfare programs, which take the cost of a certain service and spread it amongst Canadians so that is affordable for all.

In my opinion, a universal bus pass for Carleton students would embrace this Canadian philosophy and offer, in the same way health care does, benefits for all."