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U-pass Q&a



I have received a few emails over the past couple of weeks in regards to the UPass. (Interestingly, a few of them have come from members of the SRA that can't seem to get answers from the MSU executive.)

Here's the exact information publicly available from the City and what passed City Council:
(a) That staff be authorized and directed to enter into a three year Agreement with McMaster Student Union and McMaster University for a University/College Transit Pass at a fee per student for the 2008/2009 academic year equivalent to 120% of the HSR Adult Monthly Bus Pass rate, such rate increasing to 130% and 140% in the two subsequent academic years.

(b) That staff be authorized and directed to offer a Semester Transit Pass to McMaster Students Union students enrolled for the four month summer semester beginning on May 1, 2008, as part of the University/College Transit Pass Agreement, at a rate equivalent to the HSR Elementary/Secondary Monthly Bus Pass, or $252.00 for the four month period.

(c) That staff be authorized and directed to offer agreements with duration based on the needs of the respective student bodies, ranging from one to three years, to McMaster Graduate Students Association, Redeemer University College Student Senate, Mohawk Students Association, and their respective University or College administrations, which conform to the basic terms and conditions of the Agreement with McMaster Students Union, such agreements to include a summer Semester Transit Pass arrangement beginning on May 1, 2008 where applicable and desired by the student body.

(d) That The Hamilton Street Railway Company be authorized to execute agreements with the above mentioned parties, satisfactory in form to the City Solicitor, to implement the above recommendations.

Here are a few FAQs:

What do the percentages mean in real dollars?

There is no fixed answer for that. Our priced is indexed to the regular monthly adult pass price. The regular pass price has increased 21 percent during the last year alone. Had the current agreement been continued under which students pay 110% of the regular one month pass price (for an eight-month pass), the cost of the UPass would have risen by 21.5 percent, from $71.50 (for 2007-08) to $86.90 (for 2008-09).

If the current adult bus pass price remains at its current rate ($79) over the course of the proposed new three-year agreement, students will pay the following amount for each year of the contract:

2008/09: $94.80 (an increase of $23.30 in one year)

2009/10: $102.70

2010/11: $110.60

* Remember that these figures are based on today's prices. If the HSR regular monthly adult pass rate continues to climb, the price of the UPass increases.

How much more money will the city receive under the agreement?

By the City's own figures, their revenue from McMaster students will increase by $530,000 in 2008/09.

Will there be any opt-outs?

No opt-outs. The trade-off for the lower price per student (compared to eight regular monthly adult passes) is a guarantee of the price per student from all MSU members (about 19,000 students), whether they use the UPass or not.

Unlike the UPass proposal currently being discussed at York University, McMaster students using GO Transit will not be able to use their UPass fee as a credit for their monthly GO Pass. There are limited exceptions for students using mobility transit in Hamilton (DARTS) under the current agreement.

Will the summer pass be part of tuition?

The answer to this is no. The administration of this new summer pass is not yet defined. It will like operate similar to the previous (prior to the 1996 UPass) term pass and will be purchased at either Compass or the HSR ticket office downtown.

Will there be any service improvements?

There is no mention of service improvements in the document.

The HSR will continue its practice of removing #51-University buses whenever needed elsewhere in the city for regular service or charters.

The #10-Beeline will move to Main Street this September. This will result in better service for students living in the east end due to the removal of local riders going to Westdale Village or Longwood. These local riders often result in the bus being unable to take passengers who need the #10-Beeline specifically. However, this is a lost of service for students living in the Westdale/Longwood areas. The overall effect is fairly neutral since the Sterling Street corridor will continue to receive 1A and 5C bus service. (I don't count the #51 since buses are regularly pulled from that service.) The only real losers in this change will be students living in the new student apartment building on Main West who have to walk out to Main to get a bus.

Will the MSU and University continue to get their cut of the UPass fee?

There is nothing in the agreement about this. Under the current arrangement, both the University and the MSU get a cut of UPass fees - the university to cover administration charges and the MSU for promotional costs. It’s not known if the actual contract, which probably won’t be finalized until after the referendum, will be shown to (or voted on) by the MSU’s Student Representative Assembly.

How does our pass compare to other UPasses?

The McMaster University UPass is very competitive compared to other passes. The cost of a UPass varies considerably across Canada. The price range for UPasses ranges from a low of $80 in Kamloops to a high of $236.90 in Peterborough with most passes in the $120-160 range.

For more information,

City of Hamilton report on the proposed UPass

A report has been publicly available on the City’s web site since before it was considered (and approved) by a City committee on February 4. It may be found here.
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