Winnipeg Transit will consider the idea of creating mandatory bus passes for university students, possibly in time for 2014.
In a unanimous vote, city council's public works committee has endorsed the idea of allowing the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg to incorporate universal bus passes for students into their fee structure.
A report to council suggested this move would cost the city $3.4 million due to increased ridership and the need to place more buses on the streets. How to make the proposed "Upass" feasible for Winnipeg Transit - or whether it will happen - will depend on budget consultations and negotiations this year.
Couns. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), Brian Mayes (St. Vital), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) and Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) voted for the idea in principle following the endorsement of student unions from the city's two largest universities.
"I think it's a fantastic idea. It's an idea that's worked in other cities in Canada," said Vandal, cautioning there is a lot of work to do before a Upass can become a reality.
Winnipeg Transit estimated student ridership would increase more than 20 per cent if all students have bus passes.
The proposed pass would cover one term. Students at the two schools supported the idea in a pair of referenda.