The Capilano Students’ Union worked closely with its partners at TransLink, other student associations, and post-secondary institutions to temporarily suspend the U-Pass BC program from May 1 as course delivery moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We worked hard during our negotiations with TransLink to ensure that as many students as possible would benefit from the program suspension. We understand that some students still use transit services to get to work, run errands, care for loved ones, etc. However, the way that the U-Pass BC program is setup to allow a low-fee for region-wide transit requires it to be an “all or nothing” program and so there was unfortunately no option for individual students who needed it to choose to pay for a U-Pass, or receive a concession fare for transit services.
We recognize that the fall semester is going to look very different for many students. With classes online and COVID-19 still present in BC, many students will be learning from home or reducing their travel and chance of exposure. Others may not even be physically in Metro Vancouver. Financial resources are also tight for students and any extra money in their pocket would be hugely beneficial. On the other hand, many students are still taking classes or conducting research on campus, travelling to and from work, and relying on transit for errands, groceries, and social connections. For these students who rely on transit, the cost of a monthly pass is much higher than the reduced cost of a U-Pass and would be an even bigger financial burden during this challenging time.
In short, there is unfortunately no easy solution for administering the U-Pass BC program in the fall semester considering the large disparity in the number of students needing the program, the requirement to follow the terms of the U-Pass BC agreement, and importance of respecting the large amount of student support for the program in every U-Pass BC referendum conducted by student associations across the region.
We are working tremendously hard with our partners at TransLink, other student associations, and post-secondary institutions across Metro Vancouver to find the best path forward for this program. We know that a reduced transit pass is a lifeline for many students, while also being a huge financial burden for others during this uncertain time. We remain confident that we will be able to come to a solution that works for the largest number of students, but unfortunately don’t have anything concrete to share with you at this time.
The suspension is currently agreed to be in place up until the end of August 2020. However, as discussions with partners are ongoing to determine if and when the U-Pass BC program can resume, you may have noticed that your fee statement includes the U-Pass BC fee for fall course registration. Please note, this fee is still subject to change, as no decision has been made yet about the operations of the program. If the U-Pass BC remains suspended for the fall term, CapU will provide those students who have paid the U-Pass BC fee an account-credit or a refund.
Please continue to share your views with us by emailing [email protected] as we are taking all student feedback into account as we continue discussions with TransLink and post-secondary institutions to try and come to a solution that benefits students.