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 www.thefulcrum.ca.

4 comments:

Ted said...

The Pedestrian & Transit Advisory Committee has also unanimously endorsed the U-Pass proposal.

julie mckee said...

I am a Carleton student.

Every year there are student elections, where we have to sit in class and listen to several, inexperienced, mumbling hopefuls make their case to our class.

I sat through many of these nagging speeches, some of which mentioned the new pass. However, whenever they were mentioned, there was NEVER any mention of a NO-OPT out plan. As a matter of fact, at several occasions the question was posed, and it was made to appear that there WOULD in fact be an opt-out. It was not until the day before the elections that I received a pamphlet on my windshield notifying me that there wouldn't be an opt out that I was informed of this.

I believe this vote was very unfair, because most students were ill informed.

I live in an area of the city that the bus service is basically useless. In order for me to bus to school I would have to walk 20 minutes, take 2 buses and an O-train, the whole trip totaling about 2 hours.

I drive to school. I pay 1200$ a year for insurance, 1000$ or more a year on gas, and 400$ on a parking pass. Why is it that I do not get the discount. Why is it that now I will be forced to buy a bus pass I will never have the opportunity to use?

How is it that the school can force me to pay for both a parking pass AND a bus pass. This is nonsensical.

I am so annoyed, and sick of stupid student unions, "representing me".

Students will be saving 200$ who use the bus, those who don't will be losing $300. Where is the justice?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Julie!

I have finished my undergrad and am partway through my graduate degree at Ottawa U. For 5 years I have paid full price and now have bought a car, paid for a parking pass, and moved closer to the school and things I need to be around downtown and I found it absolutely outrageous that I should have to pay for others to get a discount that the city should give anyways.
OC Transpo service is quite poor to begin with and only a year ago put thousands of students, elderly, and working individuals out of a way to work or school for months in the dead of winter. I refuse to pay $300 a year for a service which is unaccepatble and I will not be using. Student bus passes should be cheaper regerdless of whether OC Transpo is making money of thousands of students who won't take the bus!

Anonymous said...

I live less then 5km from the University. I bike rain or snow. I have never used the bus, to save money and the environment. I refuse to pay this fee. Why should I pay $300 for a service I don't want to use!