Western may hop on the bus pass
By Mark Brown
After years of talking, Western is finally ready to take its first step towards the organization of a mandatory bus pass for students.
The London Transit Commission and the University Students' Council are planning to survey students on the issue before the end of this school year.
"We are just trying to assess the flavour of the existing market and the flavour of students' opinion towards it," said Larry Ducharme, secretary-treasurer for the LTC.
However, the students' council must administer the survey before the end of the semester. Scott Graham, the USC's municipal affairs commissioner, said the survey is scheduled to begin March 19 and will be conducted by Western's StatLab at his request.
"[StatLab] is run by the department of statistics and actuarial sciences stats students would benefit," said Graham, adding students will be hired to conduct part of the survey by phone.
Graham anticipates the survey will cost just over $5,000 but he expects the USC will only have to pay between $1,000 to $2,000. "The LTC will be paying a proportion of the cost since they will also be benefitting from the pass," he said.
The LTC and the USC are currently reviewing other universities with bus passes. "We are not going to re-invent the wheel," Ducharme said. "We've requested [other universities'] agreements."
Students at McMaster University in Hamilton voted narrowly in favour of a mandatory bus pass in a February referendum.
The argument was split between two polls, said Jeff Richie, McMaster's Students' Union president. The major issue centred on the fact students could not opt out of the pass.
"We are going to try it for three years and in the third year it will go back to referendum," Richie said. The pass will be valid for eight months and will be $56 or equivalent to a one-month adult pass, Richie added.
Although the details of the bus pass at Western are still being worked out, the price of the pass is expected to be lower than McMaster's
"Ours will be lower because we have a greater number of students," Graham said. "[We] anticipate it to cost $30 to $40 per student."
Unlike McMaster's plan to hold a referendum in three years to determine continued student support, Western will stick with the final decision.
"Based on the school's calendar and the setting of fees, the earliest you could see [a mandatory bus pass] could be in September '98," Ducharme said.