Volume 93, Issue 59

Friday, January 14, 2000


NEWS

Bus pass to face new referendum

Enrollment stats to see increase

McMasters TAs reach settlement

New Year's prison party raises concern

Small amounts of praise for small towns

Hospitals stuffed up with vaccinations

Bass Ackwards

Bus pass to face new referendum



By John Intini
Gazette Staff

The University Students' Council decided Wednesday night to let students determine whether a hefty fee hike will deter them from taking the bus.

A $17 increase to the London Transit Commission's student bus pass for the 2000-01 school year, prompted councillors to support a motion which will put a referendum question on the spring presidential election ballot. The question will ask students whether they support the pass at the new $96 rate set by the LTC.

The initial bus pass in 1997-98 tacked an additional $75 on to students' tuition fees. The price jumped $4 for the 1998-99 school year, to $79.

John Ford, manager of planning services with the LTC, said the increase was necessary to pay for costs incurred by having to increase service to cater to students.

"It's still a bargain," said VP-campus issues Perry Monaco, adding it is important to make it clear that council was not voting on the increase, but rather to put the referendum question on the ballot, leaving students to decide.

Monaco said the substantial increase was why he wanted the decision to be made by the student body. "It only makes sense to ask the students whether they still support the pass," he said.

Ford explained the LTC only recently identified a concrete price for the pass, as one was not fully assessed when it was first issued in 1997. He said the new rate, although still not a money-maker, will now put the LTC slightly closer to breaking even.

Ford added he is in full support of the referendum and said he expects students to support the new cost based on how greatly the pass has been used over the last two years.

"The bus pass has been very successful," he said. "Eighty-five to 90 per cent of students pick up the pass and our research shows they are using it quite extensively."

Scott Zak, undergraduate president of Western's Richard Ivey School of Business, said the debate in council concentrated mostly on the manner in which the question would be worded, as well as clarifying with the LTC on why the increase was being implemented.

"Basically, they screwed up [a couple of years ago] by letting the students set the price," Zak said. He added he saw the increase as a way the LTC could cut back on their losses.

"[The motion's] pretty cut and dry," said social sciences councillor Ray Novak. Novak added he expects students to be in full support come election time, based on the discrepancy between the school pass and the LTC's regular rate of approximately $400.

Nalini Singh, a fourth-year French student who uses the bus daily to get to school, said she would have trouble voting in favour of the increase. "Most days it's okay. But during the busy times, the bus doesn't always make all the stops," she said.

Singh added she hoped the increase in cost would be put towards improving service.


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