Students pass on U-pass

Editors, the Gauntlet,

Re: "The revolution of public transit," Jan. 11, 2001

I do not consider myself right-wing, car-addicted or any of the other fairly sweeping categories I must fall into according to your editorial, and was concerned by the misuse of information and false premises on which this editorial was based. It says something when an Economics 203 professor spends about 10 minutes of the class bashing your editorial, using it as an example of what a "crank" or "charlatan" is.

Let’s get one thing straight: a comparison between mandatory transit passes and Alberta Health Care is ludicrous. On those grounds, anything could be justified; why not have a mandatory beer fee to subsidize those of us who enjoy drinking at Max’s? It would appear this has little to do with alleviating transport or environment issues at the university; it is a thinly veiled attempt at wealth redistribution by the Students’ Union and a profiteering scheme by Calgary Transit.

Many people who own cars do so because public transit is simply not a viable option. I live in the Northwest and the bus/C-train ride takes over an hour whilst the car journey takes under 20 minutes. It is not reasonable to suggest I switch. I am not rich; I simply make choices based on my own values.

If wealth redistribution is what the SU is trying to achieve, then it would be fairer to charge different fees based on postal codes. Whilst I disagree with SU attempts to create student social programmes, which are something I thought died in the late ’70s, at least I can accept that this aim is done out of the genuine belief that it will result in some good. I do deeply suspect, however, that this is not the case as far as Calgary Transit is concerned.

We all know a $10 a month fee will not convince anyone to switch to public transit who hasn’t already been put off by U of C parking rates. On that premise, is this not simply an exercise in donating hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to Calgary Transit? The same Calgary Transit that is unreliable, unfriendly, has no intention of expanding service to meet student needs–as evidenced by their refusal to accept student consultations as part of the bargain–and is simply not available to many of us at all.

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