Let’s Talk UPass: UPass Advocacy Updates

On June 11, the University announced that UPASS for Fall 2020 will be cancelled. Here is a statement from UCalgary in regard to the cancellation: “Various scenarios were discussed during the last few months between Calgary Transit and the University of Calgary. Calgary Transit proposed running the UPass program for Fall 2020 in the same format as previous years. The University did not feel this was a reasonable alternative as a large majority of students would end up paying for a service they would not be utilizing. The University proposed running the UPass program as ‘opt-in’ for students, which was not supported by Calgary Transit. As a result, the mutual decision was made to suspend the program for Fall 2020.”

The GSA recognizes the importance of students having affordable access to city transit, especially as many of you will have an in-person component to your academic program or work. We are currently advocating to both the University administration and the City of Calgary to find short and long-term solutions. Below is an update for our advocacy effort for UPass.

What has been done and is currently in the work:

Since April of this year, the GSA has been advocating to Calgary Transit in collaboration with the Students’ Union (SU) and the University of Calgary for an affordable solution for transit access in Fall 2020.

Our initial lobby efforts were to ask for restrictions on the city’s Fair Entry program to be lifted. Fair Entry program includes the low-income transit pass; however, it requires that applicants use household rather than individual income. Read our joint advocacy letter and the City’s response. Conversations are ongoing with city officials.

In addition to this, the GSA has partnered with the SU and the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) to ask the City to provide monthly passes in Fall 2020 at the same rate as either Band B or C of the low-income transit pass ($38.15/month and $54.50/month respectively), or at an other workable percentage discount. The GSA lobby meetings include Councillor Magliocca, Chu, and Chahal. Conversations with City Councillors are ongoing.

In the interim of a final solution being agreed to, graduate students can apply for the City’s low income pass through the Fair Entry program. Eligibility is based on income. Find out if you qualify here. If you’re not sure if you qualify, you can still apply to find out.

How you can help:

You can contribute to our advocacy efforts by contacting your respective City Councillors. Find your City Councillor here. Let your City Councillor know:

  • How the UPass cancellation is negatively impacting you as a student and a resident of Calgary;
  • Ask your City Councillor to work with City Transit to offer a subsidized transit for Fall 2020 either by:
    • Relaxing the income eligibility definition/threshold for the Fair Entry program by looking at individual income instead of family income (this will allow more students to quality for the low-income pass); or by
    • Offering the adult monthly pass at a reduced rate for students during the Fall semester

You can expect a communication update on this topic in the coming weeks.

The GSA is the voice of University of Calgary graduate students. We advocate on behalf of graduate students at the University of Calgary and to the municipal, provincial, and federal governments. As your graduate student representatives, the GSA Board of Directors and the Research and Advocacy Analyst work on many advocacy priorities to the best interest of UCalgary graduate students. To learn more about the GSA’s advocacy efforts, please visit gsa.ucalgary.ca/advocacy. If you have any questions or concerns, please email askgsa@ucalgary.ca.