Nova Scotia

Students to be reimbursed for bus passes during strike

Universities in Halifax Regional Municipality say students who've paid for special bus passes and can't use them because of the transit strike will be reimbursed.
Collette Robert, a second-year university student, said she's losing money because of the Metro Transit strike. (CBC)

Students in Halifax Regional Municipality who've paid for special bus passes and can't use them because of the transit strike will be reimbursed, universities say.

The $136.67 U-Pass is included in the fees full-time students pay at the beginning of the school year.

Because of the Metro Transit strike, students have been forced to resort to other means of transportation since Feb. 2.

Collette Robert, a student at Saint Mary's University, said she's found it hard to get around — much like the 32,000 students in Halifax that got a U-Pass.

"My commute to school is an hour there and an hour back. As well my commute to work. I work at Mic Mac Mall and usually with the cab there and the cab back I end up losing money."

Michelle MacLean, another student at Saint Mary's, said the strike is adding to her financial worries as a student.

"Now that it's dragging on and on it's taking more funds out of my bank account and it's putting a lot more stress on me," said MacLean. "I already have enough with class work and everything that this just adds a lot more stress to my shoulders."

Returning the U-Pass fees means a lot more paperwork for the students' association office at Saint Mary's. Students will get their money back for the days the transit system isn't running.

Money returned

"It's been a real mess and very frustrating," said Cathie Ross, the general manager of SMUSA. "It's a nightmare, quite frankly."

At Saint Mary's, there are about 6,800 students with U-Passes.

"It will be put back on their accounts and they will be given restitution once there is an end to the strike and that will be resolved within a week of the end of the strike," Ross said.

Graduating students will get a cheque.

Cathie Ross said the strike has been a nightmare for Saint Mary's student association. (CBC)

Other universities say they also plan to reimburse students, then get reimbursed themselves by Metro Transit as the contract with the transit service stipulates.

So far for the five post-secondary institutions in HRM — about $500,000.

The Canadian Federation of Students urged students Wednesday to contact members of Halifax regional council and write letters to the editor to force an end to the strike.

"We support transit workers in getting to the table and getting a fair contract and we'd like to see arbitration happen as soon as possible so students can get back on the road," said Gabe Hoogers, the Nova Scotia national executive for the federation.

There were 5,000 other people who bought bus passes for the month of February. Metro Transit said they will be reimbursed after the strike is over.