By now, most of you…

Dear Editor,

By now, most of you have heard about the U-Pass referendum. There are two separate questions being proposed this week:

1) To keep the eight-month U-Pass at a cost of $130 (it currently costs $99.14). 2) A new summer U-Pass, at a fee of $85 for full- and part-time students, applicable only to summer students.

The U-Pass contract ends in April 2011. We started negotiating with Mississauga Transit in May 2010; however, MT has continuously told us that the current U-Pass program is not sustainable because of higher gas costs, labour cost increases, reduction of subsidies from the government, and increase in ridership from UTM students. In summary, the U-Pass was successful for UTM students but unaffordable for MT. They proposed $160 for the eight-month U-Pass, increasing to $200 by 2013, and $225 for the summer one. Obviously, students felt this was too high.

We lobbied MT and the City Council, and insisted that we deserve a fair deal. We created lobby documents and conducted a survey that saw over 2,000 respondents. Through our efforts, we ensured that the program continued and got the prices reduced from $160 with fixed increases to $130 with no fixed increases for the fall/winter, and from $225 for only full-time students to $85 for full- and part-time students for the summer.

The U-Pass is undeniably a cost-saving service used by more than 8,000 students. The fact remains: UTM Students still have the cheapest U-Pass in Ontario for a transit system of our size! This program saves each student $997 over 12 months

However, we would like to clarify the following “myths” mentioned by The Medium:

#1: The Medium said I was mistaken when I asked all students to vote “yes” to continue the U-Pass program for $130.

Fact: If this referendum fails, the entire U-Pass program is in jeopardy since the contractual agreement between MT and UTMSU expires in April 2011.

#2: The Medium claimed that the eight-month U-Pass will be subsidizing the costs of the summer U-Pass.

Fact: There is no correlation between the two fees. The summer U-Pass is applicable only to students enrolled in the summer session.

#3: The Medium implied that the U-Pass will become a 12-month program.

Fact: Once again, we are running two separate referendums for two separate fees, not one fee.

#4: The Medium claimed that the “U-Pass fee would be subject to increases by 9% annually without notice or vote”.Fact: The UTMSU cannot increase students’ fees without a vote at our board. With the maximum 9% increases, the onus falls on MT to justify an increase. Initially, MT wanted a fixed increase of $20 every year.

To further clarify, we have included the original price of the U-Pass in the preamble of our referendum question.

So this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at North, South, and CCIT from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., be a part of history. Heart your U-Pass and vote YES.

In solidarity,

Vickita Bhatt

President of UTMSU

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