Students pan planned U-pass price hike

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/10/31/students-pan-planned-u-pass-price-hike

Two zombies strategically place six tombstones in front of an OC Transpo bus then hit the ground, playing dead.

Dozens of Carleton University students getting off buses and trains do double-takes Monday, smiling as they read some of the signs: “RIP Affordable Transit,” “Here Lies A Student Suffocated In A Bus,” “RIP U-PASS $145.”

“It’s basically a quirky way of having a Halloween action but also raising awareness around the fact that OC Transpo wants to raise the cost of the U-pass by $70 without what we feel is substantial financial evidence,” said Chantle Beeso, vice president of student issues at the Carleton University Students’ Association.

With escalating fuel prices, city council heard last Wednesday, transit fares are set to rise by an average of 2.5% come July 2012. The exact hike will vary by fare class and type.

The $180-per-semester U-pass price tag would begin in September “if there was a ‘yes’ vote in a referendum question,” said Beeso, adding the student vote would likely be around February.

The mandatory pass serves full-time students at Carleton and the University of Ottawa, who now pay $145 whether they walk, bike, drive or ride the bus to campus.

“Students are quite infuriated, based on the fact that we’ve had so many cuts and there have been so many changes,” said Beeso.

These include slashing routes 4 and 117, which served many students.

Buses are overcrowded and often behind schedule, say riders.

“It’s crowded, everyone’s late for class,” said third-year film student Ruty Skvirsky.

Transit commission member and Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches said students shouldn’t be haggling with the city over the cost of the pass, which he believes was underpriced to begin with.

“I think that the world without the U-pass will be much more expensive than one with it,” he said. “We need to be moving towards full cost recovery.”

@ottawasunkroche

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