U-pass referendum brings up questions at University of Lethbridge town hall

For the first time in seven years, the U-Pass is the subject of a referendum at the University of Lethbridge. If supported, it would offer eligible undergrads per-semester access to public transit at a discount. Jessie Weisner reports.

Students and faculty gathered at the University of Lethbridge Friday, discussing whether to implement a U-Pass for Lethbridge Transit.

If a U-Pass were adopted, it would reduce bus fares for students from $289 per semester to $77. However, opt out options would only apply to a shortlist of circumstances, including undergrad students who live on campus, or 80 kilometers outside of city limits.

Some students say they’re torn on the issue, and argue Lethbridge Transit service needs improvements such as longer operation hours and additional routes.

READ MORE: City of Lethbridge seeks funding for potential downtown transit terminal

Lethbridge Transit Operations Manager, Scott Grieco says that changes are already in the works.  “So right now we’re in the middle of working with our route development committee, Reviewing the transit master plan, reviewing what the community was telling us through those engagement sessions and implementing some changes to the system.”

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U-Passes are a commonality through-out Canada, implemented in more than 60 Canadian universities since 1973, often without a vote from the student body.

READ MORE: U-Pass expands to include students from 3 Capital Region cities

U of L Student Union bylaws state no new tuition fees can be introduced without a referendum vote.

“We don’t want to be imposing fees on things that students are not in favour of. So, the referendum is just the way that we make the decision by involving the student body, not just slapping more things on there already,” said Hailey Babb, Student union president.

Slightly less than 3,000 undergraduate students voted in the last U-Pass referendum in 2011, with just 34 per cent in favour.

The polls for this vote run from March 27 to 29, and if supported, the U-Pass would take effect this September.

The polls for this vote run from March 27 to 29.


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