By: Maryam Mirza
The Student’s Association put U-Pass talks with the city while it files a human right complaint against the city’s decision to put an age cap on student passes.
The claim is targeted towards fighting the age cap on the student monthly bus pass and SA president David Corson said that they cannot have ongoing discussions about both issues.
In order to push the issue of the student age cap, they have to put aside the U-Pass issue otherwise they undermine their position in front of the Human Rights Tribunal, he said. The claim can take about six months to begin processing in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Corson says the process has taken longer than expected because they had to change their lawyers due to a conflict of interest. The previous legal team had done work for OC Transpo in the past which disqualified them from acting for the SA.
The semester pass for Algonquin students was dissolved by the City of Ottawa at the end of the academic year of 2011-12. Since then, students over the age of 19 have to purchase an adult bus pass in order to use the OC Transpo system.
The U-Pass costs $180 per semester and is included in the tuition fees of students whose post-secondary institutions have a contract with OC Transpo. In Ottawa that would include students at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
This excludes Algonquin students and that has caused angst among students because they don’t really know what is happening.
“I used to use the bus last year because we used to get the semester pass,” said Aarti Raheja, a public relations student at the college. “But now I use my parents’ car. It’s not fair that just because I’m 24 years old I’m suddenly not considered a student,” she said. “I’m curious to know what the college is trying to do on our behalf.”
The city discontinued the semester pass because there was a significant decrease in its use by students at the college.
In the previous academic year (2011-2012) 3,000 parking passes were sold at the college, not taking into account the students that decide to use other forms of transportation such as biking, walking, carpooling or getting a ride from parents or significant others.
Laura Stanbra, vice-president of Student Services at the college says that the college is not under negotiations with the city.
“It’s really up to the city to approach and negotiate with the college,” said Stanbra. “We have yet to get anything from the city or be contacted about this.”
According to Stanbra, the student population is not pursuing the U-Pass option which is why the college isn’t pushing to bring it to Algonquin.
“My understanding is that if the U-Pass is put into play again, all students would be included in that whether they want to be or not,” said Stanbra. “We are continuing our dialogue both with the Students’ Association and any recommendations that the city has so that we can move forward.”
As it stands right now the U-Pass issue has been set aside. Based on the outcome of the human rights claim, the students will have a better idea of the troubling issue of the OC Transpo transit system.