U of T to vote in referendum on new TTC 'universal' pass for post-secondary students

The Toronto Transit Commission board on Tuesday unanimously approved a basic framework for a new program that would see post-secondary students in the city get a deeply discounted pass for the transit network.

TTC board moves ahead with next phase of plan to possibly implement U-Pass system

The TTC and some local colleges and universities could soon roll out a new pass that would provide significant discounts to students, but there's a catch. (Mike Wise/CBC)

The Toronto Transit Commission board on Tuesday unanimously approved a basic framework for a new program that would see post-secondary students in the city get a deeply discounted pass for the transit network.

The Universal Pass, or U-Pass, would cost about $70 per month for each student, with a $280 cost added to their student fees each semester, and the price of the U-Pass fee could also rise if the TTC implements fare increases.

Because of that, all eligible students at a post-secondary school would need to participate, though certain concessions may be made for students who are unable to use public transit. 

The TTC has said previously that for the program to work, the University of Toronto – St George, Ryerson University, OCAD University and George Brown College would need to collectively agree to a four-year term. Those schools are expected to put the choice to a student referendum. 

The first will be held at U of T's St. George campus later this month. 

At least one representative from Ryerson University attended this month's TTC committee meeting to push for a $65 U-Pass instead, however TTC officials said the internal costing shows a price of $70 per month is necessary for sustainability. 

The U-Pass would also be only available through the existing Presto card system and could either be provided to students either on a per-semester basis or year round.

The transit authority says it hopes the new post-secondary pass would make transit more affordable and increase transit ridership for students.

A TTC report on the U-Pass says full-time students at University of Toronto – St George, Ryerson University, OCAD University and George Brown College already help generate $61.7 million annually, but with all 110,000 full-time students from those post secondary institutions paying $70 a month, the TTC could generate $66.4 million.

The TTC expects it would see a 15 per cent increase in rides with the U-Pass or approximately 4.2 million more rides annually.

With files from Dexter Brown