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Toronto students team up to push for transit deal

Student representatives from the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD University and George Brown College have launched a campaign for the introduction of a universal pass (U-Pass).

Anne Boucher, the U of T student union’s vice-president of external affairs, is one of the people leading the campaign for the introduction of a U-Pass.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Anne Boucher, the U of T student union’s vice-president of external affairs, is one of the people leading the campaign for the introduction of a U-Pass.

Toronto students are banding together for a renewed attempt at a better deal on transit.

Student representatives from the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, OCAD University and George Brown College have launched a campaign for the introduction of a universal pass (U-Pass). Already common practice in many Canadian cities, the U-Pass gives students unlimited access to transit. The minimal cost is covered through their student fees.

The TTC already gives post-secondary students a $30 discount on a monthly Metropass, which means it costs a Toronto student $116.75 a month. In comparison, a U-Pass for Ottawa transit costs $202.46 per term (roughly six months). In British Columbia, the cost is $41 per month.

"The current TTC discount is not accessible or affordable to everyday students," said Anne Boucher, the U of T student union's vice-president of external affairs and one of the campaign leaders. She explained that many students in Toronto turn to other means of transportation, including lengthy slogs on foot.

"By having a U-Pass, now you're incorporating an entire student body, allowing everyone to use transit," she said. "It's kind of like taxes, with everyone pooling in together and helping bring the price down."

A TTC spokesperson said the agency is aware of the campaign, but any decision about a new pass would have to go before the board for approval.

It's not the first attempt at a universal pass. Back in 2008, students from all over the GTA tried to negotiate a common discount but failed to get support. Boucher said it was a case of "too many cooks in the kitchen," which is why the current campaign focuses only on the downtown core.

The campaign has launched a survey to collect data on students' transit habits. Each participating school will also have to conduct a referendum on the incidental fee each student would have to pay for the U-Pass deal.

Student representatives are already meeting with transit advocates for advice on the project and will approach the TTC and Metrolinx once the survey data is available.

Boucher said a U-Pass deal is a win for both students and the city.

"All those part-time jobs available in the suburbs, all those rental places a little too far, they'll now be accessible," she said. "The U-Pass just opens a lot of doors for people."

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