TransLink suspends U-Pass program for post-secondary students

Apr 9 2020, 5:26 pm

TransLink announced this afternoon it has collaborated with post-secondary institutions and student societies to temporarily suspend the U-Pass BC program.

The suspension, affecting post-secondary student pass holders in Metro Vancouver, will begin on May 1.

In separate bulletins, both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have indicated that TransLink is continuing discussions with post-secondary institutions and student societies about the potential for refunds if students are not using their April U-Pass.

Students who do not need their April U-Pass are encouraged to refrain from using it.

The student union for Capilano University has stated that U-Pass fees already paid for the summer semester will be automatically reversed before the fee payment deadline.

Approximately 140,000 post-secondary students receive the discounted monthly transit passes, accounting for 13% of TransLink’s annual passenger journeys during normalcy.

However, ridership to college and university campuses across the region has nosedived over the past month from growing concerns over COVID-19, physical distancing and self-isolation measures, and the suspension of in-class instruction, which has largely been replaced by online instruction.

The U-Pass has 10 participating post-secondary institutions, including Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Langara College, Douglas College, Vancouver Community College, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (Burnaby campus), and British Columbia Institute of Technology.

This transit pass is offered to students in post-secondary institutions under agreements in place with TransLink. It provides unlimited travel across all three fare zones, and discounted fares on West Coast Express.

Student bodies are required to hold a referendum every few years on the continuation of their U-Pass BC program, which mandates students pay mandatory student fees and agree to a schedule of rate increases.

This contract was last renewed this past January at all 10 institutions, following the latest supportive results from student referendums held at each school.

A fee increase was scheduled for May 1, rising from the current rate of $41 per month to $42.50, with further annual increases through May 2024 reaching $46.

TransLink also offered to provide partial refunds to regular monthly passholders for unused trips in their March pass. The value of the unused trips is transferred to storage value for future use.