Monday, November 10, 2008

Guest column: Student riders

Femi Fasoyinu, a part-time student at Algonquin College, contacted me last week about writing a guest column about the issues surrounding student bus passes. According to OC Transpo regulations, discounted student bus passes are available only to full-time post-secondary students, which means that Femi, and other part-time students, are required to pay full fare for an adult bus pass. The following is Femi's opinion, and does not necessarily reflect that of
Since I began taking classes at Algonquin College in 2006, I’ve been taking the bus to campus. Up until this year, I’ve been a full-time student riding with a discounted student bus pass. When I switched my course load to part-time this year, I expected to continue using this student pass.

My expectations proved wrong. It turns out part-time students don’t qualify for the student bus pass discount. In fact, part-time students face quite a different challenge when it comes to public transit, something I would soon find out.

As a part-time student, we are required to pay $81—the price of an adult bus pass—instead of the $62.65 price of a student bus pass. With this policy, OC Transpo is not providing service which accurately reflects the part-time student population in Ottawa.

For the close to 36,000 part-time students at Algonquin, many registered for at least one semester, and thousands more at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, there should be a pass which reflects our needs.

Many part-time students, myself included, are registered for at least one semester taking at least one course per week. Just like full-time students, we have made a commitment to go to school in an effort to raise our knowledge in a particular subject area we deem important to our future endeavours and career path. And also like full-time students, we’ve sacrificed some financial gains to pursue this—a sacrifice which is somewhat offset for full-time students with a discounted buss pass fee. So why are part-time students ineligible for this discount?
Femi makes some interesting points. Do you feel it is fair for part-time students to be ineligible for student discounts on bus passes? Please feel free to post your comments on this issue in the 'comments' section below.

Anyone interested in writing a guest column on issues surrounding public transit in Ottawa is encouraged to contact me at

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