TTC UPass 70

Toronto university students could pay $70 for TTC monthly passes

The TTC is recommending a program that would see students at local universities and colleges pay as little as $70 a month for unlimited access to subways, streetcars and buses.

That's less than half the price of a regular adult monthly pass, and significantly cheaper than the current post-secondary rate of $116.75.

It's also lower than what city councillors were expecting, based on predictions made during a TTC board meeting in December, where the long-fabled U-Pass was last discussed.

A report for action released this week ahead of the next TTC board meeting, details the transit agency's proposed U-pass policy framework.

If approved, $280 ($70 a month, based on 4 months per semester) would automatically be added to every individual student's regular student fees.

These fees would be mandatory for students at all eligible academic institutions, whether he or she intends to use it or not.

Students will not be able to opt-out of the pass unless it imposes a burden related to personal circumstances protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The U-Pass would work for eligible students during all three semesters, including the summer semester, be available via PRESTO, and require students to carry "appropriate TTC Post-Secondary Photo ID."

City councillor Joe Mihevc said in December that charging students anything less than $80-100 per month would jeopardize the transit agency's ability to break even.

And yet, according to the TTC's recommended framework, overall revenues are expected to remain stable (that is, if the pass is adopted by the University of Toronto–St George, Ryerson University, OCAD
University and George Brown College, at minimum.) 

"If all 110,000 fulltime students attending these institutions pay $70 per month, the U-Pass will generate revenues of $66.4M1 annually," reads the report. "The additional $4.7M in revenues per semester are required to offset the additional service costs to support the forecast additional ridership from the U-Pass initiative."

"Based on a $70 U-Pass price, the TTC will remain cost and revenue neutral."

Transit passes are already included in the tuition fees of some Ontario schools, including McMaster, Carleton and the University of Guelph.

Toronto has explored the idea in the past, but it never quite panned out here before.

A coalition of student unions from U of T, Ryerson, OCAD and George Brown have been pushing for the TTC to revisit the idea of giving all students affordable, unlimited access to public transit since at least September.

Their efforts, cited in the transit agency's new framework policy report, suggest that 95% of approximately 16,000 respondents would vote in favour of a U-Pass being implemented.

Whether or not it comes to fruition is now up to the TTC board.

Lead photo by

Michael Borre

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