by: Ashley Quinton
New and Politics Writer
University of Windsor students will soon decide the fate of U-Pass, the cut-rate Transit Windsor pass in place since 2016.
The University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) will hold a referendum on making the U-Pass permanent March 20th and 21st. The Graduate Student Society (GSS) and The UWindsor Organization of Part-Time Students (OPUS) will hold their vote on March 28th and 29th.
The Executive-Director of Transit Windsor Pat Delmore says the program not only provides inexpensive travel, it benefits the entire community. “We made the commitment that all of the proceeds from the U-Pass would be reinvested in the transit system and we did that.”
“This was one of the things that really excited me about the potential is that it’s an opportunity for university students to make a contribution to the community. Everybody benefits from it,” Delmore enthuses.
As part of the service enhancements, Transit Windsor’s 1 C bus now runs every 10-minutes. U-Pass funds also paid for new technology like real-time arrival information available by text or online. “Again, university students did this but the whole community benefits from real-time information and being able to know when that next bus is coming.”
“We encourage students to express your voice through their vote,” says UWSA President Jeremiah Bowers. “If students say, we don’t want the U-Pass, then it won’t be mandatory. But if students say they want it, it will be.” Students living outside Windsor and undergraduates who pay for a parking pass will still be able to opt-out.
Lynette Kivisto, Graduate Student Society President, notes that grad students as a group are different from undergraduates. “We have a large majority of international. And for the students who aren’t international, most are from out of town. So we don’t have a large proportion of graduate students that are from the Windsor area. So for a lot of them they do make use of a transit pass because they may not have family cars that they could borrow or their own car or be able to get rides from family members.”
But the opting out threshold is 25% for all student unions. Any higher and it won’t be viable for Transit Windsor to offer the U-Pass. Delmore hopes that won’t be the case, “We had a 22% increase in ridership, which is astronomical.” And Transit Windsor is currently undertaking a service review that he says will take the bus service into the 21st century. “We are looking at every bus route and how it operates because many of these bus routes haven’t changed since the late 1970s and 1980s. And we know Windsor has grown in those years. So our hope is that the outcome of this, that will come later in 2019, is a fully revamped transit service that gets people to where they want to go in a faster and faster, more efficient manner.”
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