Transit Tensions
The University of Saskatchewan's Universal Bus Pass Negotiations

Author: Anna Krutova, Caroline Beck, Claire Gosselin
Publication Date: 2015

In the fall of 2012, upon successful implementation of a universal bus pass at the undergraduate level, several graduate students at the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, SK, Canada) decided to take initiative and advocate for a universal transit pass (U-Pass) contract for the graduate student body. They approached the Graduate Student Association (GSA) to develop a student group who would lead the initiative and manage negotiations for a U-Pass with the City of Saskatoon. Bargaining with City Council was completed and a price point for a mandatory graduate student U-Pass determined.

The U-Pass agreement became unfavourable for a number of students, especially those unable or unlikely to use the U-Pass. However, the city required a mandatory opt-in policy for all students to negotiate a fair price point. Opt-outs were already tabled, according to standard policy in other jurisdictions. Student opt-outs were permitted for those (1) living in on-campus residence, (2) living outside city limits, (3) taking classes online, or (4) taking classes outside city. While many students strongly supported the U-Pass movement, others had no interest in paying for a service they did not intend to use. Two distinct 'camps' emerged among graduate students which ultimately led to protests, social media debates, and significant attention within the University. The issue reached a highly contentious tipping point in February 2013.
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