With students at Manitoba's two largest universities likely to get city council approval for a special price on bus passes, students from other post-secondary institutions are asking: What about us?
The price-break proposal was endorsed by the city's public works committee Tuesday and now goes to council for approval.
The deal would let students from the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba pay only $260 for a two-semester pass, beginning in the fall of 2016. That would be a considerable savings for students who take the bus regularly: Single fares are currently $2.55 and post-secondary passes are currently $67.75 per month.
'I foresee this starting with the two major universities and then expanding in the future'
But there's a catch. The special rate of $260 would be mandatory for each student at the U of M and the U of W, regardless of whether they take the bus, if the student bodies agree to the deal in referendums.
Some students at the Université de Saint-Boniface are also interested in getting the U-Pass, but have yet to organize a referendum necessary to negotiate with the city.
"There is a significant number of students who take the bus to school," Nicolas Audette, president of Association Etudiante de L'Université de Saint-Boniface, said.
Red River College and smaller local universities such as St. Boniface could get their own bus passes, Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge East Fort Garry) said.
"There can definitely be an expansion in the future," Gerbasi said, noting she has been in talks with Red River College, which in turn has been talking to Winnipeg Transit.
Audette said USB was part of preliminary discussions with Winnipeg Transit, but decided to see what the large schools could work out first before considering their own plans.
Many international students at USB rely on the bus, Audette said.
"The No. 10 bus goes right in front of the doors on Aulneau (Street)," he said. "Within a five-minute walk, we have frequent buses on Provencher," as well as a short walk to buses on Marion Avenue and at St. Boniface Hospital, Audette pointed out.
Audette said there is time to organize a referendum for next fall.
Gerbasi said city council started the bus passes with the large universities because there had been talks for a long time and details about costs and routes were well-known.
"The whole thing still depends on successful student referenda," Gerbasi said.
"I foresee this starting with the two major universities and then expanding in the future."
Bilan Arte, Manitoba representative for the Canadian Federation of Students, said neither Red River nor Université de Saint-Boniface was able to organize a referendum this fall before council dealt with the passes.
Canadian Mennonite University was notified, but is not a member of CFS, she said
"CMU students were not in favour given the high percentage living in residence," said a university official.