Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer
The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) voted to reinstate the U-Pass for the Fall 2020 semester. The U-Pass BC program was suspended over the summer due to COVID-19, but according to the SFSS website, they “worked with TransLink, and other post-secondary institutions and student associations in Metro Vancouver” to reinstate the program as of September 1.
The U-Pass program affords students a compass card to ride the bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus for a cost of a $170 student fee payable to their university every semester. It also includes a discount for the West Coast Express. This rate of $42.50 a month for discounted transit saves students from “paying anywhere from $98–$117/month,” according to Samad Raza, the VP External Relations at the SFSS, in an email statement to The Peak.
Raza said that “through a survey, [the SFSS realized that the] majority of students are in favour of U-Pass” because they “depend on [it] for necessary travels to jobs, grocery stores and other personal trips.”
Some students are exempt from the student fee for reasons such as residing outside of Metro Vancouver or if they are enrolled in less than three units. Otherwise, all students are required to pay the student fee. While the SFSS isn’t involved in the exemption requirements, Raza stated that they “are looking into more ways to help [the] students who are under financial burden.” In an email statement to The Peak, Jillian Drews, a representative for TransLink, stated that “TransLink administers the program but does not set eligibility criteria” and suggested that students with questions or concerns be directed to “their school or student association.”
A petition by an SFU student calls for an exemption from the student fee during COVID-19 and currently has over 300 signatures. Some students are against the mandatory student fee as classes have been moved to remote learning, but others maintain that the U-Pass program is only available because of the number of students paying for it.
For full eligibility and exemption rules, information can be found on the SFU website.
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