The University of Toronto Students’ Union released the results from their U-Commute transit survey in preparation for a potential GTA-wide U-Pass. The results showed that a large majority of students have to schedule their classes based on transportation needs, that a large majority of students plan to stay in the downtown core after graduation, and 95 per cent of students would vote “yes” to this pass in a referendum.
According to the released results, “The survey received over 16,000 responses, with 9,946 responses from full-time undergraduate University of Toronto St. George students. Overall, the U-Commute survey saw a 23% response rate from full-time undergraduate University of Toronto St. George students.”
The survey reviewed criteria of demographics, transit patterns, transit behaviors, and whether students would be willing to pay for such a pass.
According to the survey, over 73 per cent of participants use public transit on its own or as a subset of methods to travel and chose other means of transportation, such as walking or biking. 36 per cent of participants stated that they solely use public transportation in order to get around the city and the GTA.
Over 84 per cent of the students partaking in the survey stated that they rely on public transportation for more than just getting to class.
Of the 9,946 respondents to the survey, 458 stated they did not use public transit, with 43.7 per cent of those stating it was due to high fees, while others said they had another preferred mode of transportation, and the remaining percentage stated they don’t use public transportation due to its unreliability and extended travel time.
Due to the high pricing of the transit fairs, 3.6 per cent of students stated they evade transit fares on a daily basis, while 60 per cent said they have never evaded paying for transit.
The survey, targeted at full-time undergraduate students, showed that 93 per cent of them would use this pass to expand their searches for job opportunities outside their normally frequented locations.
Survey participants came from all over the GTA, including Ajax, Vaughan, and Richmond Hill, with the largest demographic living in Toronto’s downtown core, North York, and Scarborough.
The results note that “an inaccuracy in this survey was the self-reporting nature of this question. We expect some answers marked as ‘Downtown – City’ may have been better attributed to other areas in the City (i.e. West end, East end, North end), given the discrepancy with the answers received.”
UTSU has previously stated that this pass would be implemented through PRESTO cards, but when asked in the survey, only 51 per cent of participants stated they have a PRESTO card, and 48.9 per cent stated that they don’t.
The proposed pass from UTMSU would be in collaboration with several other Toronto post-secondary institutions including Ryerson University, George Brown, and OCAD. Each of the collaborators held their own commuter survey, the results of which are not included in UTSU’s update.
In December 2017, the TTC stated that they would be willing to move forward with the U-Commute project and began consultations for implementation. A plausible price or implementation date has yet to be announced.
Many post-secondary institutions have been lobbying for more flexible transit passes for students, including McMaster and Guelph University. UTMSU has promised to lobby for an expanded U-Pass for UTM students for the past four years.