Summer UPass causes students confusion

By Michael Grondin

The new spring and summer upass, which is offered for the first time this year at the University of Calgary, has some students confused about who is eligible for the four-month Calgary Transit pass.

According to parking and traffic services senior administrative officer Susan Austen, only full-time students enrolled in at least two classes in either the spring or summer terms can acquire the upass.

Students can’t pay the $110 fee for the pass if they are not taking full-time classes. Even if a student is taking one class in both the spring and the summer semesters, they are not eligible.

“I think it’s a big step giving even full-time students the upass, but a great next step would be allowing part-time students to have one also,” said fourth-year biological sciences student Andrew Margherit, who will be taking one summer course and is not eligible for the upass. “It would be nice to have that option.”

Margherit, who often travels to campus to use the gym, believes not having a pass is inconvenient for part-time students.

“It sucks just because I went to get a bus pass the other day for May, which for an adult is $94,” said Margherit. “I did the math — I have to use it 34 times for it to pay for itself. Even if I use it more than that I won’t be saving.”

According to Austen, the specifications of eligibility for the spring and summer upass were decided through the U of C’s contract with Calgary Transit. It is still in the trial stages.

Austen said the upass follows what the administration considers full-time students to be, and there are no current plans to change these specifications.

The idea for the spring and summer upass was sparked in 2010, when 89 per cent of surveyed students were in favour of having a spring and summer transit pass.

“What we’re doing is we’re combining those four months as one session, so you can be full time in summer and get a upass,” said Austen. “It has to be an all in kind of thing — so the only group that is included is full-time students.”

Calgary Transit will also be testing Connect, a new electronic transit pass. Several hundred Calgarians — including approximately 400 U of C students — received a Connect card for free to test the pilot project over the next months, said Calgary Transit media advisor Ron Collins. Students had to sign a long waiting list to receive a Connect pass.

“We’re going to aggressively test the entire system, test the devices that are out there now through card readers on busses and trains,” said Collins.

However, students who did not receive a Connect pass or a spring and summer upass will have to find alternative methods to get to school.

“The upass really helps, especially if you need it for four months,” said Margherit. “You don’t have to worry about it, you can just hop on the train and get to where you need to be. And being a student, it just makes getting to class and getting to the gym way easier.”

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