Simmonds settles ISIC beef with VIA Rail

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

While undergraduate students at Western have to pay $16 to get their student discount at VIA rail, many universities across Ontario give out their International Student Identity Card for free.

The Canadian Federation of Students runs the ISIC program and since the University Students’ Council is not a member, undergraduates have to shell out the bucks for their VIA discount.

This past summer, David Simmonds, VP-university affairs for the USC, participated in discussions with VIA rail executives and other university representatives to solve the equity issue for Ontario undergraduates.

“Our beef is that VIA won’t take student cards as validation cards, whereas Greyhound can take student IDs.”

As a result of these discussions and other feedback it has received, VIA implemented a new youth fare this September. It offers a 25 per cent youth discount to anyone between the ages of 18 and 25, whereas the student discount offers 35 per cent off the going rate.

It is on a trial run until January and might become permanent based on the level of interest.

“If it’s popular and it seems to be attracting more people in the target age group, we will definitely be considering extending the discount,” Malcolm Andrews, senior manager of corporate communications at VIA rail, confirmed.

Simmonds doesn’t think it’s fair for a crown corporation to charge people different fares based on external organization membership.

Kevin Patterson, a fourth-year arts and humanities student, agreed Western students should have access to free discounts if other universities do, but he pointed out it is not too expensive anyway.

The USC plans to include questions about the new youth fare in its annual survey and submit the results to VIA.

Andrews said the interest so far has been positive.

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