Next month could see a breakthrough in Ryerson’s long-awaited attempt to get students a “U-Pass.” Over the past year, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has been campaigning to get students an all-inclusive TTC transit pass in their tuition alongside other student unions.
For a commuter school like Ryerson, this proposal is a chance to change how students can use Toronto’s public transit.
“We’re pushing right now to give a proposal to the TTC for a price point that’s as low as possible,” said Daniel Lis, RSU vice president education.
The TTC will then either approve or reject it in mid-March. Lis said “We’re very confident that we’ll reach a deal with them at that meeting.”
After that, provided Ryerson’s Board of Governors gives it their stamp of approval by the end of the month, students will get to decide if they want to make the switch to it.
“I think the students have a right to vote on the U-Pass proposal we end up with, so if that all goes through, the RSU will run a referendum, which would be in September” said Lis.
If passed, students would no longer have to plan the frequency or calculate the costs of their transit use, it would all be covered as an automatic feature of enrolment at Ryerson.
Most notably, they would be offered to all students at a discounted rate, according to Lis.
It’s hard to overstate how significant this could be, as the combined effect of both these changes could potentially offer a lot more transit leeway to Ryerson’s entire student body.
This issue has already made its way into the upcoming RSU executive elections, with the Ryersonian’s recent election debate showing the different positions the presidential candidates are taking.
From their statements in the debate, all three parties appear to be backing the U-Pass proposal, though they remain divided over whether to expand it to include more transit options in the GTA, or implement more quickly with only the TTC being covered.
“The earliest it can realistically be here is September 2019,” said Susanna Nyaga, current RSU president and Elevate candidate.
Nyaga’s competitor, Unify presidential candidate Ram Ganesh, argued that “successfully implementing U-Pass as it was meant to be” within the TTC would be more workable and quicker to pass.
As Lis explained, current RSU bylaws would slow down the start-date of a U-Pass until a year after the referendum on it.
So, students will have to decide if they want it sooner or later, and if they want it in the first place.