Windsor

Chance to opt out of UWindsor's universal bus pass comes with a catch

The U-Pass program is up for a vote late March with a key change.

Students will vote whether or not they want to continue the bus pass program

The U-Pass at University of Windsor is currently mandatory with the exception of people who live in a specific list of 'opt-out area codes.' (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Starting September 2019, University of Windsor students may be allowed to opt out of paying for their bus pass — if they have a parking permit.

Currently, opt-outs are only available to students who live outside of Transit Windsor's coverage area. But an upcoming referendum will allow students to vote on whether to keep the bus pass program. If it stays, some with parking permits will no longer have to pay $132 a year for a bus pass they never use.

University of Windsor Students' Alliance president Jeremiah Bowers said the changes arise from their month-long survey to find out what students want to see.

"So the biggest change comes from the biggest student concern, about those who own parking passes on campus, yet still have to pay for the bus," he said.

Jeremiah Bowers says many students expressed frustrations about having to pay for a bus pass when they have a parking permit. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Josh Lowe, who drives to school but doesn't have a parking permit, thinks this change is not a good solution.

"I think it's a little frustrating, because the main argument we're making for opting out of the U-Pass to begin with, is to save a little bit of money on our tuition," he said.

What he wants is for students who don't need the U-Pass to be able to opt out, with or without a parking permit.

He said he uses public lots and street parking because he can't afford to shell out hundreds of dollars for a parking permit up front.

Lowe is not the only one.

"I personally park on the road on California, so it's about a 15 to 20 minute walk from the university," said McKenna Sarafin.

Students who live in LaSalle still have to pay for the bus pass. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Kaitlyn Viney is graduating but she is frustrated for students who can't opt out.

"What about the people who live two minutes from the school and don't want to pay for this useless service they force us to pay for," she writes on Facebook.

First come, first serve

The proposed changes also say that opting out will be on a first come, first serve basis — up to a limit.

People who will get priority to opt out are those living in a list of "opt-out area codes," which includes those living in Amherstburg, Kingsville, but not LaSalle.

"The reason the limit exists is to ensure that we don't go over the threshold, by which we would make the U-Pass inaccessible and unaffordable for a lot of other students," Bowers said.

Lowe said it's understandable for there to be a limit to how many can opt out.

"But I don't think it should be restricted to those who are privileged enough and fortunate enough to afford the several hundred dollars up front for a parking pass, just to opt out of the U-Pass," he said.

Students will be voting on the referendum for the new bus pass program on March 20 and March 21.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story suggested only students who own a parking permit will be able to opt out of the U-Pass program starting September 2019. However, students who live outside of Transit Windsor's coverage area can opt out as well. This detail is now reflected in the story.
    Mar 10, 2019 12:15 PM ET

With files from Sanjay Maru

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