CITY council and Winnipeg Transit will attempt to figure out a way to allow Winnipeg's two largest universities to create mandatory bus passes as early as 2014.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, city council's public works committee endorsed the idea of allowing the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg to incorporate universal bus passes for students in their fee structure.
A Winnipeg Transit report suggested the move would cost the city $3.6 million due to increased ridership by university students, which in turn would require increased transit service and the purchase of additional buses.
Couns. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), Brian Mayes (St. Vital), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) and Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) nonetheless voted to refer the idea to the city's budget process.
Corporate sponsorship of the program and matching provincial funding could reduce the burden on the city, said Vandal, the committee chairman.
In a pair of referendums in 2012, students at the two schools endorsed the idea of paying $85 to $100 per term for the passes.
While the creation of the program is still uncertain, council endorsement is "a huge step," said Bilan Arte, outgoing president of the University of Manitoba Students Union.
-- Bartley Kives