What Grinds Our Gears: SFU students aren’t eligible for a U-Pass during a semester off

We pay enough to merit a pass

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Vancouver SkyTrain
SFU students are still SFU students during an off semester. PHOTO: Diego Mazz, Unsplash

By Luke Faulks, Opinions Editor

You know what’s cool? The U-Pass system. Through SFU, we’ve got unlimited access to the Lower Mainland’s sprawling bus, SkyTrain, Seabus, and gondola (c’mon folks) network. You know what’s less cool? Revoking that access when students aren’t signed up for enough courses. Dick move, whoever runs this thing. 

Maybe eligibility is based on some erroneous assumptions about students. Let’s picture the SFU student who’s taking a break between semesters. Are they going to commute for work to fund their continued academic goals? Are they going to head out on the town to unwind after a grueling semester? Apparently, the survey says “nope!” No, what the U-Pass system tells us is that a semester off is spent sequestered away in your place of living. No travelling. No commuting. Why else would the powers that be halt the Compass card system when SFU students are still part of the community? 

Now, yes, paper pushers, I can feel you fuming. “We pay for the U-Pass in our semester fees,” you say. “We don’t pay during off semesters,” you argue. “Stop pestering me for my take on the U-Pass system,” you add. True, true, and apologies, Tyler. Every semester in which we take courses, we pay a fee of just over $170 for access to the U-Pass system. That’s a lot. And it’s enough that we should be able to have a carryover semester where we, as SFU and Translink’s sometimes-year-round-money piñatas, get to use the transit system for free. 

Even between semesters, a great deal of what we do remains in service of achieving our academic goals. Why grind our lives to a halt by intermittently dropping students’ U-Pass eligibility?