Conestoga students to vote on mandatory bus passes

Waterloo Region has budgeted funds to give Conestoga College students a discounted universal bus pass, but the students still have to approve a mandatory charge on their tuition.

Referendum being held next month for cheaper, but compulsory, bus pass

Students at Conestoga College are going to be voting on whether to add the cost of a universal bus pass to their tuition.

Jeff Scherer, president of Conestoga Students Incorporated, the student union, said currently students pay $227 per semester, or $681 a year.

"It's been forever, ever since I can remember, a very expensive mode of transportation because of only having a four-month pass," he said.

In its budget, Waterloo Region approved funds to offer the college students a discounted bus pass of $245 annually.

But that price will only be offered to students if they make the bus pass fee mandatory.

The vote is "going to be fairly close," Scherer said in an interview Friday with The Morning Edition host Craig Norris.

"There seems to be interest from a large number of students," he said, but noted a recent survey of 1,300 students found 56 per cent were in favour of the bus pass fee, and 44 per cent were not. Previous referendums have failed to pass a mandatory charge for bus passes, he said.

Price still higher than university students pay

The bus pass cost would still be more than $85 a semester, which is what students at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University pay.

"I prefer to look at it as the difference to what they're paying right now than comparing it to what they're paying at the universities. There's a number of factors that come into the price," Scherer said.

The sheer volume of students at the universities compared to the college is a major factor. As well, Scherer said Grand River Transit has indicated they need to increase service to the Doon and Cambridge campuses.

If the students indicate they want the mandatory bus pass, it will be made available starting this fall. Students will vote in the referendum Feb. 1-3.

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