Volume 91, Issue 60

Thursday, January 15, 1998

round and round


Referendum for bus pass

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

After years of talk, students will be given the opportunity to decide if they want to increase their student fees for the opportunity to benefit from a universal bus pass.

The decision to hold a referendum on the issue was made last night by the University Students' Council. The motion was passed overwhelmingly following almost no debate.

USC President Ryan Parks said he was not surprised by the strong support for the referendum since council was not debating the merits of the pass. He added he expects more debate on the issue during the upcoming USC presidential elections.

The proposed bus pass will cost students $75 and will be valid from September to April, explained John Ford, director of planning for the London Transit Commission. He added students will not be given the choice to opt-out of the bus pass and it will only be available to full-time undergraduate students.

"The cost savings for the average student will be very significant," Parks said. Students will not have to factor in a $400 bus pass when trying to decide how far from campus to live, he added. At other schools with universal bus passes, like Queen's and Guelph, the cost ranges from $40 to $112.

The cost of the bus pass was based on the results of a student survey conducted last year as well as the LTC's estimate on how much revenue is currently generated by students taking public transit, said Ford. He added the pass is intended to be revenue neutral.

Some of the advantages of the bus pass would include increased mobility, less concentration of students around the university and a delay in the need for capital advancement for parking expansion, Ford said.

The LTC hopes to use the Western 1 card, explained Greg Latham, general manager for the LTC. "We are trying to keep things as simple as possible."

Tim Morris, chief returning officer for the USC, plans to incorporate the referendum into the upcoming USC presidential election in hopes to increase student turnout. "For many, this bus pass is a great idea, for others it might not be," he said.

Students will have to use the bus approximately 38 times over the eight months of the school year to benefit from the proposed bus pass.

The LTC is willing to make some changes to the bus service to campus, although it is not sure what the demand for the service would be if it is endorsed by the students, said Ford.

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