photo © Simon Cremer
Over the course of the 2010 Mayoral Election campaign, Public Transit in Ottawa will be sitting down with mayoral candidates, discussing their platforms and thoughts on transit in this city, and what they hope to achieve during their mandate, if elected mayor.
Next up is Charlie Taylor. A journalism student at Carleton University, Taylor, 33, has released a series of key platform ideas on his website, from "fiscal responsibility" to "citizen friendly government"--and, of course, public transit.
One of the short-term transit goals Taylor outlined on his platform was to kill the U-Pass, the universal student bus pass which, for $145 per semester, would give any full-time university students a bus pass. One of the key issues debated about the U-Pass as it went through council was an opt-out clause, but it wasn't approved; every full-time student will pay that $145 per semester. Although he said he didn't want this issue to define his campaign, Taylor suggested that the U-Pass is unfair to those students who choose to live close to their campus.
It’s a disincentive for people to make the environmentally-friendly choice to live within walking or cycling distance of school if you charge people a blanket fee. People opt to live close to school, it’s a little more expensive rent-wise, but they’re making that decision to have that lifestyle, and they can invest some of the money that they save in transit into their increased rent. I think that’s a totally legitimate decision, and charging people $300 a year as a tax to walk or cycle is unethical.
The U-Pass, which is valid for bus and O-Train transportation, was brought forth by the student federations of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, and passed referendums at both schools. Still, Taylor questioned the validity of those student votes.