U-Pass BC 2013 Referendum: Not fair on students who don't drive
There is a referendum underway for the U-Pass BC. The pass expires in March 2013, and all students have to vote to either continue with the pass or to end it.
U-Pass BC is available to all post-secondary students in BC through a partnership between the Province of British Columbia, TransLink and BC Transit. The program is universal for all eligible Metro Vancouver post-secondary students and is mandatory in order to lower the cost per student.
All this sounds fine in theory but there is a serious flaw in reasoning in the whole affair.
To begin with, the fact that the pass is mandatory means students who don't need it because they drive to college are made to pay double. They have to pay for the pass, as well as gas and parking. Of course they'll not be happy about this.
Having a referendum seems like the obvious thing to do. It's the students who stand to benefit from it so they should be able to decide if they want it. But there's a flaw in this.
Students who own cars and drive to college outnumber those who use transit. If these owners of cars vote against the pass, and if the pass is cancelled, the students who do need the pass will have to pay full fare.
This is a matter of rich students who don't want and don't need the pass deciding the fate of students who want and need the pass. We can't blame them for this. The fault lies in the decision to make the pass mandatory. It's mandatory to lower costs, as already mentioned.
But there's a concession fare for all students below college level. Yet it's not mandatory for every student to buy a concession monthly pass. They buy it if they want it, and the rest pay a concession fare when they use transit.
If the concession pass is not mandatory to lower rates, why is the U-Pass mandatory to lower rates? Why can't it just be available to students who really need it?
One more thing. Students who drive to college are increasing pollution and traffic congestion. If indeed the pass is to be mandatory, it should not be put to a vote. The students who drive should consider the mandatory pass a penalty for driving.
But at least the students who either can't afford a car or don't want to drive to college should be able to get their U-Pass. They need it, and they're helping the environment in the process.