Students reliant on public transit will need to find an alternative to the U-Pass for yet another term. Following the U of M’s announcement that courses will continue to be delivered online until at least Feb. 26, the U-Pass has been deemed “more of a burden” than a benefit to students.
“The greater benefit to remote students would be to have [the U-Pass] be paused and then offer a subsidy for those in need,” said Brook Rivard, UMSU vice-president finance and operations.
The winter transit subsidy is being offered in two different forms.
One form of the subsidy is the one that has been available for students throughout the pandemic. When a student purchases a term pass at a price of $288, they will receive an $80 subsidy so that the final price of their term pass is $208.
“It’s for those who […] take the bus three or more times a week and who show financial need,” Rivard noted.
“When you’re below three trips a week […] it actually becomes a bit more economically viable for the student to just purchase individual tickets.”
Explaining how financial need is defined, Rivard stated, “We are being quite lenient with what we deem to be financial need. Really, it is just showing that you are an UMSU member and that you do have a case for using the bus.”
“We’re just trying to limit people from purchasing the pass and then only taking it once a week because it’s a negative financial drain on the union and it’s just not the most economically viable plan.”
The second form of the subsidy will be offered in March and April when students are expected to return to in-person classes.
“If students purchase a monthly pass, we will take the $80 subsidy and we will prorate it per month. So, it will be $20 a month, bringing the cost of the monthly pass from $84.80 to $64.80 a month,” Rivard said.
Winnipeg Transit has also recommended that students do not load their current U-Pass. Rivard said this is because there is a difference between the peggo card and the U-Pass card.
“You can kind of tell by the colouring on the card […] The U-Pass is tied to your student number and if at any point between when the U-Pass is offered up until now […] if [a student] has not been a full-time student or registered in courses, their card is now deactivated.”
If a student has taken a break from taking courses or has taken a limited course load, there is a possibility for that student’s card to have been deactivated.
Rivard also suggested students purchase monthly passes once they are back to in-person learning. This would be cheaper for students even if they did not receive a subsidy since two monthly passes would cost nearly $170 altogether, whereas the semester pass with the deduction would cost $208.