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U-PASS Town Hall Discussion & Information

This forum is meant to provide an open atmosphere where students can ask questions, voice concerns and find out more about the program.

Date:  Thursday, March 6, 2008

Time:  3pm - 6pm

Location:  The Meeting Place, U of T Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail


TOWNHALL FORUM

In anticipation of a lively debate surrounding the U-Pass, the SCSU wants to extend every opportunity to students to find out more about the program. On March 6th, 2008 at 3pm in the Meeting Place, the SCSU will host a U-Pass Townhall Forum with guests David Miller, Mayor of Toronto; Adam Giambrone, Chair of the TTC; and Joe Mihevc, Vice-Chair of the TTC.

U-PASS INFORMATION AND REFERENDUM QUESTIONS

Background

            The Universal Transit Pass or U-Pass is an idea that has been gradually developing between the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and student unions in Toronto for the last few years. It had been brought back into the foreground of student politics with the re-election of Mayor David Miller in 2006. Mayor Miller’s election platform included the negotiation of a U-Pass with post-secondary institutions in the Toronto region. As a student levy, it has become the job of the student unions to negotiate the U-Pass for their individual institutions.

Since the summer of 2007, student unions from across Toronto including the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) have collectively approached the U-Pass to get the best deal possible.

The initial deal offered by the TTC was as follows:

-         $60 per month

-         Non-transferable

-         Price of the U-Pass pegged at 60% of the regular TTC Adult Metropass

-         Full-time students only

-         No opt-out

-         Access to commuter parking lots

-         Offered though the academic year (i.e. September to April)

The initial deal was seen by many student unions as not flexible enough to meet the needs of each campus. As a result, the SCSU approached the TTC to negotiate a U-Pass that would be more inclusive to Scarborough.

The Deal for Scarborough Campus

After intensive negotiations with the TTC, the SCSU managed to acquire an agreement that would give Scarborough more flexibility and would meet the needs of the unique demographics in our school. The agreement that the SCSU obtained is as follows:

-         $60 per month or $240 per session

-         Non-Transferable

-         Price protection until May 2010

-         Price increases at the same rate as regular Adult Metropass. (i.e. if the price of Metropass goes up 4%, the U-Pass goes up 4%)

-         Both full-time and part-time students eligible

-         GO Transit Credit equal to the amount levied for the U-Pass (opt-in)

-         York Regional Transit Pass (opt-in)

-         No opt-out

-         Access to commuter parking lots

-         Offered all year round in all academic sessions (Fall, Winter, and Summer)

(As a note, the deal the TTC offered has a life span of this year only.  This means if the SCSU were not to move forward with a referendum in 2008, the price of the U-Pass will rise once again to 60% of the TTC Adult Metropass in 2009, bringing the price to $65 per month)

Understanding the Price

The price of the U-Pass can be a little difficult to understand in contrast to other programs in the country. Indeed, the TTC is the least funded transit system in Canada. The government of Ontario has in recent years gradually scaled back their funding of public transit systems in the province. The TTC, being the largest transit system in Canada and the fourth largest in North America, has required a great deal of money to maintain their current service levels. To compensate for the lack of provincial funding the TTC has relied heavily on transit fares to support their operations.

Without sufficient public support of our transit system the current price of the U-Pass remains at a breakeven for the TTC. The SCSU has lobbied the provincial government over the course of the year for support in our endeavour for an affordable U-Pass. The response has been less than favourable, as the province has rejected all opportunities to help students pay for the U-Pass.

The SCSU will continue to pressure the Ontario government for provincial support of the U-Pass.

Referendum

            The SCSU will be holding a student-wide referendum on the U-Pass on March 19th and 20th in conjunction with our Director elections. The referendum is required because as a student levy, it needs the permission of the student body to be implemented. There will be two referendum questions, one for part-time students and the other for full-time students. The referendum question was split because of the differing needs of part-time and full-time students.

In the initial U-Pass deal, the TTC was not willing to offer the U-Pass for part-time students. After negotiations, the SCSU managed to include part-time students in the U-Pass program. The SCSU Board of Directors felt it prudent to run separate referendums for both full-time and part-time students to give the choice to both demographics.

However, as a note, the TTC will not be willing to extend the U-Pass program to part-time students if full-time students do not vote in favour of the U-Pass in the referendum. Alternatively, the U-Pass will be extended to full-time students if they vote in favour, even if part-time students do not.

The two referendum questions are as follows:

FULL-TIME STUDENT QUESTION

Preamble:

The Universal Pass (U-Pass) is a non-transferable transit pass that gives students unlimited travel on regular services on either the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) or York Region Transit (YRT). Students who choose the TTC option will also have access to TTC commuter parking lots. Students not choosing the TTC or YRT may instead apply the full value of the levy against a GO Transit Credit at GO student fares.

The program will begin for students at the University of Toronto Scarborough starting with the Fall 2008 session. It will apply to all full-time undergraduate students at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the levy will only be charged for the sessions in which you are enrolled in classes (including the Summer).

The cost of the U-Pass is $240 per session ($60 per month) as a compulsory, non-refundable student levy paid to the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) and remitted to the TTC. The cost of the U-Pass is price protected until May 2010. After May 2010, the price of the U-Pass will increase at the same percentage rate as the regular TTC Adult Metropass. The TTC, assisted by the SCSU, will administer the distribution of the full-time undergraduate U-pass. The U-Pass program will only be offered if the majority of full-time students who cast a ballot vote “yes” in this referendum. In the case that part-time students vote in favour of the U-Pass and full-time students do not, the U-Pass referendum will fail. 

Question:

Are you in favour of both:

  1. A new compulsory student levy for a Universal Bus Pass (U-Pass) for all full-time undergraduate students at the University of Toronto Scarborough at a cost of $240 for each of the sessions in which they are enrolled in classes?

  1. An annual increase of this levy proportional to the Adult TTC Metropass increase (not to be implemented until after May 2010)?

PART-TIME STUDENT QUESTION

Preamble:

The Universal Pass (U-Pass) is a non-transferable transit pass that gives students unlimited travel on regular services on either the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) or York Region Transit (YRT). Students who choose the TTC option will also have access to TTC commuter parking lots. Students not choosing the TTC or YRT may instead apply the full value of the levy against a GO Transit Credit at GO student fares.

The program will begin for students at the University of Toronto Scarborough starting with the Fall 2008 session. It will apply to all part-time undergraduate students at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the levy will only be charged for the sessions in which you are enrolled in classes (including the Summer).

The cost of the U-Pass is $240 per session ($60 per month) as a compulsory, non-refundable student levy paid to the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) and remitted to the TTC. The cost of the U-Pass is price protected until May 2010. After May 2010, the price of the U-Pass will increase at the same percentage rate as the regular TTC Adult Metropass. The TTC, assisted by the SCSU, will administer the distribution of the part-time undergraduate U-pass. The U-Pass program will only be offered if the majority of full-time students who cast a ballot vote “yes” in this referendum. In the case that part-time students vote in favour of the U-Pass and full-time students do not, the U-Pass referendum will fail. 

Question:

Are you in favour of both:

    a.  A new compulsory student levy for a Universal Bus Pass (U-Pass) for all part-time undergraduate students at the University of Toronto Scarborough at a cost of $240 for each of the sessions in which they are enrolled in classes?


    b.  An annual increase of this levy proportional to the Adult TTC Metropass increase (not to be implemented until after May 2010)?

TOWNHALL FORUM

In anticipation of a lively debate surrounding the U-Pass, the SCSU wants to extend every opportunity to students to find out more about the program. On March 6th, 2008 at 3pm in the Meeting Place, the SCSU will host a U-Pass Townhall Forum with guests David Miller, Mayor of Toronto; Adam Giambrone, Chair of the TTC; and Joe Mihevc, Vice-Chair of the TTC. This forum is meant to provide an open atmosphere where students can ask questions, voice concerns and find out more about the program. Our website will keep an updated page dedicated to this event.

NO OPT-OUT

To clarify the importance of this referendum, it is worthy to note that there is no opt-out for any student in this program. This means that every student will be required to pay for the U-Pass if the referendum passes.

For any further information please contact SCSU Vice-President External Chris Smith at external@scsu.ca or 416-287-7615.




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