Survey shows students wouldn’t pass up a U-Pass

 

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STORY BY CATARINA MUIA

Ninety per cent of Sheridan students who were recently surveyed say they are in favour of a transit discount pass.

A survey of 466 students conducted last week by the Sheridan Sun discovered near unanimous support for a transit U-Pass.

The survey was posted on various Sheridan-related Facebook groups for students to click and voice their opinion on the topic. It was also conducted face-to-face with a random sample of students at Trafalgar, Hazel McCallion and Davis campuses.

A U-Pass gives students the ability to use the transit system in their college/university’s city for free throughout the school year by showing bus drivers their student card.


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According to Barry Cole, director of Oakville Transit Services, Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton transit systems formed a partnership and offered Sheridan College in February, 2011 the opportunity to give students a U-Pass for $185 for an entire school year.

The Student Union says it rejected the offer due to a lack of interest from students. The partnership between the three municipalities dissolved.

Since then, “there have been no further discussions regarding a U-Pass for Sheridan College students,” said Cole.

“A few boards ago, the SU Board of Directors made a motion that essentially, it wouldn’t be brought back to the SU, or we couldn’t start bringing it up unless there was a demand from students,” said SU president Jenna Pulver.

After hearing about the interest students have taken shown via to the Sheridan Sun survey, Pulver said, “I would bring that survey and the results that the Sun have to the board, and maybe we would conduct more surveys and get the results from that. At least with you guys having your survey, we could open up that topic again.”

In 2010 Student Union put out a survey for students to determine which services they wanted the SSU to provide.

This included the U-Pass program and more specifically, how students were planning on using it.

Of the 400 students who responded and lived in Oakville and went to Trafalgar, 58 per cent said they would use the pass to commute to school.

Of the 226 student respondents who lived in Mississauga and attended Trafalgar, 68 per cent said they would use the pass to commute to school.

Of the 592 students surveyed who lived in Brampton and went to Davis, 70 per cent said they would use the pass to get to school.

Of the 294 students who lived in Mississauga and went to Davis, 80 per cent said they would use the pass to get to school.

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Pulver explained that they still do surveys about the U-Pass to see what the demands are, “and there still doesn’t seem like there’s a demand at this point,” she said.

Until the SU implements a U-Pass, “I’m not highly motivated to do much for Sheridan students with transit because I’m not going to have much work with to make changes,” Mayor Rob Burton told the Sheridan Sun in October.

With Sheridan shuttle buses overcapacity and other Canadian colleges and universities adopting the U-Pass program, many students have voiced their support for the idea.

“The U-Pass is used at probably almost all of the universities and colleges I can think of,” said Kathleen Glenn on a Facebook post. “I don’t understand why Sheridan, a highly commuted-to college with very low amounts of rooms for residence, doesn’t have one.”

According to Pulver, not only is there not enough interest from students but also she says there is no telling how prices might change within the next few years if Sheridan was to get a U-Pass.

Pulver does mention that the SU is trying to figure out how many more shuttle buses they will need to meet student demands.

“The question is, can we afford to be paying for more and more buses? Is that going to be realistic?”

Students are paying fees to the SU, and the union and college pays for the shuttle buses as of right now. For the two buses that the union helps pay for, it costs $283,000 each annually, as reported in a Sheridan Sun story in September. “Essentially, students are already paying for the buses, and it would be an additional cost on top of that,” said Pulver about U-Pass fee.

She explained that costs for the program would have to be sorted out and negotiated, but a ballpark total estimate would be around $250 to $300 per year.

In the Sheridan Sun survey, results showed that students were willing to pay up to $150 per semester for a pass.

“As a former UTM student I can’t even begin to express the value the U-Pass has had during my university years.

“While I am pleased that Sheridan has taken a step forward by offering shuttle servicing, during peak hours, it’s always crowded,” reads an anonymous response in the survey.

“Considering that Sheridan is present in three different cities, I think it’s only fair to be able to have the U-Pass subsidized by our tuition,” the response continued.

“It would be a great incentive to use public transit without the accumulating costs, and could potentially ease up congestion on the roads if more students were able to take transit instead of drive.”

Carleton University, Wilfrid Laurier University, Fanshawe College, University of Ottawa, UTM, University of British Columbia, Langara College and Douglas College are just a few of the post-secondary schools that already have the U-Pass program for students.

Algonquin College students voted for the U-Pass program on Friday. Forty per cent of the student population took part in the vote and 83 per cent were in favour.

“If I haven’t said it strongly enough: implement a U-Pass,” said Burton. “It will open up new vistas of opportunities to move around, your personal mobility will expand.”

13 Responses to Survey shows students wouldn’t pass up a U-Pass

  1. Ashante *Gurl* December 6, 2014 at

    concerned: your question #1: do you get graded on the journalistic quality of your articles and there resulting discussions? That seems like a reason to create bias, but of course if you didn’t have bias then you wouldn’t be human either, are you human lol?

    your question #15: would you be referring to another corporation not already mentioned in the article or the comments above? if so who else has a stake here?

    anonymous: you first comment: computer techies, friends tell me that its possible to re take the survey, maybe the sun could ask the union to use that third party survey company to prevent trouble makers from modifying the results?

    your second comment if your the same person: that creates a strange problem for those against the pass, maybe there is way to tone down the upass or tone up the shuttle bus so we dont’ have drivers or bus riders left out

    Chris Coutts: third last paragraph: if the school loses money on the buses but has the contract and the rights to modify the routes and times then would option number 3 be possible:
    1->upass 185$ per year
    2->shuttle 283,000$/18,000 students = 15.72 $ per year
    3->shuttle (more routes/times) 15.72$ x 4 = 62.89$ per year

  2. Jisha December 2, 2014 at

    I want a Upass! Why can’t we just get it! Like the college has lots of money if they can buy a new building couldn’t they just get a deal or something?

  3. Full Facts December 2, 2014 at

    Where are all the details? How much does each cost? What percent of students surveyed does this represent? Did Upass, Sheridan, SU, Residence (CLC), Athletics or any other company have sway in this article?

    Why is there no quote from the College itself? Why is the Mayor of Oakville quoted but not a representative from Brampton or Mississauga? I’m wondering who’s pulling the strings here?

    • Chris Coutts December 3, 2014 at

      Hello Full Facts, thanks very much for your response.

      I’m not sure exactly what details you’re referring to, but I’ll try to answer your other questions as best as I can.

      As we reported in this story and another story earlier this year, the shuttle bus program costs both the college and student union about $283,000 each annually, a figure we received from Jenna Pulver. In an effort to combat overcrowding and buses being missed, the college (and only the college) also spends about $4,000 per week to run a third shuttle bus which operates during peak hours in both the morning and evening. Pulver also anticipates having to add more shuttles to the rotation as early as the Jan. 2015, though that’s still under review.

      As for the figures pertaining to U-Passes, the number given to us came from Barry Cole, Oakville’s transit director, and was a $185 student fee back in 2011. Cole also headed the efforts between Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton Transit when the last U-Pass offer was made to Sheridan, which is why our reporter focused her efforts on having him speak for the municipal government side of the story. Bonnie Crombie, Mississauga’s new mayor, has also voted in support of U-Passes when she was a city councillor, as reported during our municipal election coverage in October.

      Ian Marley, Sheridan’s VP of student affairs, said the SU “balked” at the $185 figure and refused to hold a referendum on the issue – a claim that largely spawned our desire to report on this story. While that number does seem large and no one can argue that a U-Pass would be cheaper than shuttle buses, $185 is less money than two months’ worth of monthly transit passes in any of the affected municipalities. It would also largely render the shuttle bus services irrelevant, as well as alleviating the need to run the grocery bus service, freeing up funds to potentially help offset the $185 fee. In a world faced with dwindling fossil fuel reserves combined with the fact we attend a college that actively promotes it’s sustainability-minded ethos, shouldn’t we be encouraging younger generations to take transit more and drive cars less and less?

      President Jeff Zabudsky has said that the shuttle service is an example of a service the college offers at a financial loss, since they deem it a valuable service for students worth losing money on. In my discussions with various school administrators, I feel they are also pushing for the U-Pass option. A U-Pass would certainly be a great selling point for prospective students when Sheridan becomes a university in the coming years.

      As for what percentage of students surveyed that represent the story above, we surveyed 466 students of the approximately 18,000 full-time students who attend the college. While all of the editors agreed the more people we managed to survey, the better, we found that roughly 90 per cent of the 466 students across all three campuses supported a U-Pass at Sheridan. Admittedly, our in-house survey doesn’t compare in many ways to the one produced by the student union in 2010, since the union’s survey was contracted out to a third-party company who specialize in such work. While it perhaps may not have been adequate enough for you and some of our other readers, we like to think we did our best with the time and limited resources at our disposal.

      As a student editor of the Sheridan Sun, I can say with complete confidence that none of the aforementioned organizations and institutions had any influence on our reporting, nor do they ever influence any of the work we produce.

      Thank you again for your feedback, and for reading the Sheridan Sun!

  4. Give us a UPASS December 2, 2014 at

    The UPASS never gets implemented at Sheridan because a bunch of spoiled kids with their parents buying them a car and giving them a free bank ride on life. A few “lucky ones” shouldn’t determine the outcome. So please give us a UPASS, the drivers who spend thousands of dollars a year on a car complain about a measly 300 dollar extra fee on their annual tuition. Honestly people waste a lot more money on pointless things, so think about the greater good for once!

  5. Anonymous December 2, 2014 at

    Is what “Your Worst Nightmare” posted true? I mean, if I can’t opt-out then I see no point in it. I don’t want to pay for it when I end up getting a car. Plus the fee just goes up every year, which just means that I am paying more for something I may or may not use in the near future. To this I say, no thanks.

    • Catarina December 2, 2014 at

      Thank you for your reply.

      That is correct, there is no opt-out for the U-Pass program, just as there is no opt-out for pubs, bands or funding for clubs.

  6. Your Worst Nightmare December 1, 2014 at

    Its funny because nobody will ever see my comment too. Because you moderate them. Wow. What’s the point of free speech when it’ll be moderated before being posted.

    -Your Worst Nightmare

    • Catarina December 1, 2014 at

      Thank you for your thoughts and reading our work. We appreciate any and all feedback.

      We encourage and would be happy to accept a letter to the editor, which you can submit to sheridan.sun@sheridanc.on.ca, please include your full name and program.

  7. Your Worst Nightmare December 1, 2014 at

    Here’s something for your thoughts and troubles you biased publisher you. If you didn’t realise but at this point in time, there are more students that drive vs. use the city bus; the same students use the shuttle more too! Also another problem is that if the SU gets the upass it will take idk how many years? Like two or something to actually implement it because it has to be passed by the school as a fee. Another really important problem is that, I drive, and so do MOST OF THE STUDENTS ON THESE CAMPUSES. If we were to get the upass we would have to pay an extra $250-300 for shit we as drivers are not, probably NEVER, GOING TO USE! Plus the prices go up EVERY YEAR for the upass to make up for the bus prices going up, I’d rather that money be spent on my parking pass or something that’s useful for me rather than me paying the college for shit I will never use. And no, you can’t opt out. I was in Uni before so don’t you dare think that there is an option to opt out of the mandatory fee. Also, we have THREE CAMPUSES. There are so many people that come from out of the three cities too… This entire article is so biased that its literally just utter nonsense being spewn from a newspaper that nobody ever reads. And maybe next time you shouldn’t put out a survey that we can repeatedly do. I did it more than once and it’s quite funny because your data will be SO SKEWED. For all we know you surveyed only a few hundred people and those hundred (you included) filled out the surveys multiple times to make it more of a biased result. Not to mention the fact that Pulver seems to have screwed up her statement. Being a business student such as myself it really pains me to see the president falter like that, because it seems that I know better than her, but the FACTS are that we don’t pay any fees to the student union for the shuttles. In fact the student union hasn’t charged us a penny for the operation of the shuttles… Way to do your research. Maybe next time you should not print something you don’t know the complete details of because it seems that any average student can stop you from talking. BTW. I did the survey on ONE device. MULTIPLE. TIMES. I’ll be sure to let all of the students know how much of a failure this was.

    With LOTS OF LOVE,
    Your Worst Nightmare.

    It’s time somebody stood up to your idiotic shenanigans.

    • concerned December 3, 2014 at

      I bet that must’ve felt good. I hope you’ve had some time to settle down, as I’ve got a few questions about your questions/allegations that need addressing:

      1) How, exactly, is Sheridan’s student-run newspaper biased?

      2) Where are your statistics on how many students drive vs. commute?
      ii) When were they compiled?
      iii) How many responses did you receive?
      iv) Where and how did you poll students?

      3) Why is the length of time it would take to do something reason enough to not do something?

      4) Who said it has to be “passed by” the school? Did you mean to say the student union?

      5) How often do you attend themed pub nights?
      ii) How often do you use the grocery bus?
      iii) How often do you use the shuttle buses?
      iv) How often do you attend XXX hypnotist events?
      v) How often do you attend open mic nights?
      vi) How, exactly, do you think the student union pays for all of the above?

      6) Why would parking pass prices not increase along with the price of U-Passes?
      ii) How much do you spend on owning and operating your motor vehicle every year?

      7) You talk a lot about yourself. Should decisions only be made based on what “Your Worst Nightmare” wants, or should the greater good ever be taken in to account?

      8) Where are your statistics on the Sheridan Sun’s readership and circulation?

      9) What proof do you have that you filled out the survey more than once?

      10) How, exactly, did Pulver “screw up her statement”?
      ii) What should she have said instead?

      11) Where, exactly, do you think the student union gets the money to pay for their half of the shuttle bus program?

      12) What specific research did you conduct before making this post?

      13) How have your efforts to inform “all of the students” of how erroneous this story is worked out?
      ii) How many do you have left to inform?

      14) How is anyone to know if you’re actually a Sheridan student?

      15) How is anyone to know if you’re not a member of the Student Union, and are merely sticking up for a corporation you have an obvious stake in?

      I look forward to your response.

      I remain,

      concerned

  8. Anonymous November 28, 2014 at

    Respectfully, your survey allows people to fill it out multiple times, that in itself means the data could be skewed based on participants filling it out multiple times to further their own interests.

    This means the entire article could be based on false data.

    • Jeanylyn November 30, 2014 at

      Thank you for your reply.

      The only time people were allowed to take the survey more than one time on their own devices was when a colleague and I were going around campuses, asking students to take the survey on our laptop and tablet. After surveying people in person, the ability to take the survey multiple times on one device was disabled.