The U-Pass is a proposed discounted Metropass for full-time, post-secondary students. It would provide students unlimited access to the TTC during the academic year for $70/month, compared to the Post-Secondary Metropass, which costs $116.75 a month.
For the U-Pass to be implemented at Ryerson, a referendum must be held and a majority of the full-time students who vote must be in favour of the pass.
Three key benefits to the RU-Pass are listed online: saving money, reputation and partnerships. The site explains, “Ryerson will be the first and only University in Toronto to have this pass. This will boost the school’s reputation and increase the value of your degree”.
Further, they note that “not only does the RU-Pass give students unlimited access to TTC services, it also builds our relationship with local transit networks. It is our first step to work with Metrolinx and eventually expand the pass to the Go Transit Network”.
However, when it comes to saving money, it is really only the students that already purchase metro-passes that benefit from this arrangement.
In itself, the Ryerson U-Pass sounds like a great idea, particularly for those of us who rely on the TTC as our main vehicle of transportation. However, look a little further and there are some obvious issues with this system.
For one, the opt-out option is ambiguous. It states that opt-out provisions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. When asked exactly what this means, a representative explained that opting-out is allowed on the basis of accessibility issues. So where does this leave students who are struggling financially?
As a student explained in the Ryerson 2021 Facebook group, they already pay approximately $2080 a year commuting through GoTransit. To save money, they walk everywhere and avoid taking the TTC. For these students, the implementation of a mandatory U-Pass adds an unnecessary $580 to their already overwhelming expenses. Similarly, the U-Pass also provides few benefits to students who live either on campus or nearby.
A business management student Humza Tlj pointed out, “Ryerson is a commuter school. People come from different cities to go to class and go home. We don’t have errands to do. We take the GO. We work in our city. We exist. Using that errands or personal use, or more utilization of the TTC argument is silly because at the end of the day, no one should be forced to pay for something they have never or rarely utilized.”
The Rhino Party has broken down the cost differences between a U-Pass and regular TTC fare for five different student scenarios. Their findings reveal that if you only take the TTC, you save money if you go to school at least 4x a week. However, if you solely use GoTransit, you lose at least $170/year. The numbers don’t lie.
Now, I’m not entirely against the RU-Pass. In fact, as someone who regularly uses the TTC, I would actually benefit financially. Ultimately, what I am against is an arrangement that benefits some students while erasing the perspective others entirely. The absence of a clear policy for opting out and the miscommunication surrounding the issue is extremely unsettling. When you vote on Monday, I urge you to keep these facts in mind.