Re: Transit justice (Editorials, Dec. 4). I feel compelled to set the record straight about the benefits of a student universal bus pass.
A U-Pass will benefit all students. For regular transit users, it will provide savings of at least $322.80 per year. For students who currently drive to school, the U-Pass provides the option to bus and save on gas, insurance and parking. Students who keep driving can still get ahead by using a convenient park-and-ride near the university and not spend the nearly $500 for a parking pass.
Second, the U-Pass will result in more students taking Winnipeg Transit. Across Canada, successful U-Pass programs have resulted in higher student ridership, 40-50 per cent increases in some cities. Increased student ridership will mean real benefits for the city and the provincial governments, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, reduced road maintenance and reduced traffic congestion.
With all the residential and commercial development in Winnipeg's south end, actions to decrease traffic congestion have never been more important. The City of Edmonton recently estimated that a U-Pass saved the city an estimated $1.29 million in road maintenance.
Finally, these passes are not something new or unproven. They exist in numerous cities across Canada, such as Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Brandon, Ottawa, Guelph, London and Halifax. Students here voted in huge numbers to support the U-Pass -- we are willing to invest significantly in the program ourselves, and we hope the city and the province will join with us in investing in a program that will provide huge financial, ecological and social benefits to all taxpayers.
University of Manitoba Students' Union
In his Dec. 3 story Students want universal bus pass, Nick Martin fails to address the opt-out options put forward by both the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg student unions. Students with disabilities or students who live outside the transit service area (i.e, outside of city limits) would be able to opt out of any such fee.
As well, Martin neglects to mention that such a policy truly provides a vision for a more sustainable future. Research shows that students who participate in U-Pass programs are to more likely to employ transit as their primary mode of transportation after their degrees are completed.
A further note: UMSU's members are undergraduates only; graduate students at the U of M are affiliated with the University of Manitoba Grad Students Association, which did not propose a referendum on the U-Pass at this time.
University of Winnipeg Students Association