Today, Winnipeg Transit provided its report on the UPASS and is recommending an increase in the cost of the program to $160.75 per term. This is an increase of $24.50 per term from the 2019/20 cost; an increase that is said to be necessitated by budgetary restraints and the expansion of the program to red river college (RRC).
While UMSU is understanding of the budgetary constraints the city is under, supports the inclusion of RRC in the program, and strongly supports the UPass program in whole, we are in staunch opposition to this recommendation.
At a time when tuition, course materials and student debt is rising, students cannot afford further increases in costs. Proposing an increase of this magnitude threatens the existence of what has been a highly successful program; increasing student ridership by 25%.
UMSU presented transit and city councillors with an alternate plan that would increase revenue and ridership, by expanding the winter UPass into the summer term, and we call upon city council now to consider that alternate approach.
Lastly, we assure all students that no increase in the costs of the program will occur without a referendum of the student body. And we assure you that we remain committed to supporting the goals of sustainability, affordability and accessibility outlined in the UPass contract and our bylaws. We ask the city to do the same.