Coun. Scott Fielding says he won't support a new transit pass for university students.
Fielding estimates the city's share of a subsidy for the program would cost $15 million over five years, adding the money would be better spent fixing roads and providing employment opportunities for young people.
"As a potential mayoral candidate, it would be easy for me to say I support it," Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said. "But we can't be everything to everyone all the time."
The U-Pass program will provide subsidized transit passes to all undergraduate students at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba beginning in fall 2016.
The program is contingent on students at each campus supporting the plan in a referendum, which would add $260 in student fees for the transit pass.
Fielding said all post-secondary students can currently buy a discounted monthly transit pass.
The issue goes to council for approval Wednesday.
Fielding acknowledged his subsidy figures would include expanding the program to include Red River College students and does not recognize the province would cover half of the operating subsidy.
Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said Fielding has consistently opposed rapid transit improvements while at city hall, adding he fails to see the benefits to the city's infrastructure by getting more people to ride buses.
Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said Fielding's math is faulty. She said the total annual subsidy would be about $1 million to $2 million but the city's share would be 50 per cent of that. Gerbasi added the city wouldn't have the additional millions to pour into roads if the transit subsidy isn't expanded.
Gerbasi said the program has the potential to take thousands of students out of private vehicles and place them on city buses.
"You've got to look at the bigger picture," Gerbasi said. "U-Pass would save on the wear and tear on city streets."