A week ago I had written about how much money it was plausible to save if you take public transportation. After that, I have became aware that there are a quite a few varying selections for student bus passes throughout the country. The example I used of the pass in Winnipeg ended up being close to average, so that’s fine as far as the comparison went; however, shortly after considering the various options across Canada I thought it may be useful to note the differences.
Probably the most controversial part of student bus passes in Canada is the potential of a majority of students on some campuses to make the passes mandatory. Universities just like the University of Ottawa, the University of Victoria, Saint Mary’s University, and the University of Western Ontario have held student referendums where students elected to include bus passes as part of their all around tuition and student user fees. At Ottawa this led to a law suit by nine students against the University felt discriminated against.
Naturally this dilemma has some positives and drawbacks. The extremely low cost of public transportation for people who use it is an unquestionable incentive. For those campuses the rate was lowered to about a hundred dollars flat for the year! This is likely because of the larger volume of sales. The fact that students are pressured to get passes would also assist the overall usage rates. This has wonderful spin-off environmental effects, together with the previously mentioned financial ones.
Personally, the disadvantages are a lot more prevalent to me. During my time at the University of Manitoba there was a referendum on whether to put together a mandatory package for public transportation to be supported by all students. I quite simply can’t get past the fact that it should not be considered fair for a slight majority of students to trample the legal rights of a huge minority and take money out of their wallets to subsidize their preferred form of transportation. If I remember correctly, there was already a percentage of the money used from parking service fees to help offset student bus pass costs. This is still a hard sell for me despite the environmental benefits. Needless to say as a vehicle owner I am definitely bias.
My personal distaste for particular aspects of public transportation is most likely a result of the Winnipeg pubic transit system. No matter how much money I was saving I couldn’t justify the steady waste of time. The schedules were hardly ever correct, the constant disrespect of passengers, and the horrible weather aspect of life in Winnipeg, was enough to encourage me to get my own car.
However, if I had went to school in British Columbia I might have a very different view of student bus passes. After a remark from a local with regards to her public transportation experience, I checked out the Vancouver area alternatives. I was blown away by the good bargain they got and the fact it was not subsidized by other students (this means it doesn’t penalize the students that walk, bike, or drive to school). The U-Pass (universal pass) is readily availablefor sale to post-secondary students for the low price of $30 each month. The really good part of the deal is that this doesn’t solely cover the bus, but the Seabus and SkyTrain services as well! With such a comprehensive variety of options I would assume there is a great deal of success with the program presently there.
In comparison, Winnipeg charges over $70 per month for its sloppy patchwork of buses. Other monthly public transportation rates for students consist of $89 for a metro pass in Toronto, $41 in Montreal for a combined metro and bus pass, $71 for a student bus pass in Saskatoon, and Calgary didn’t even have a student rate from the information I have been able to see on their site. The general adult rate there for a monthly bus pass is $90.
One other thing people (not just students) who use bus passes should be advised of is the non-refundable tax credit available. For the majority of people you can get a pretty good idea of how much money you should get back on your taxes by multiplying the annual fee of your bus passes by .15 (15%). This is a wonderful little reward incentive for people who are already financially and environmentally mindful enough to use public transportation.
Getting a student bus pass is a common approach to saving money when attending school. Student public transportation is vital to any university planning to make a subsidised service to their students.