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City, student association negotiating return of university bus passes

But wouldn't return until January at the earliest, as students would have to vote on it in the fall
20201121 Guelph Transit RV
GuelphToday file photo

Universal bus passes for University of Guelph students may be making a return in the months ahead.

City and student association officials are slated to meet this Friday to “start the conversation” of bringing them back, says Robin Gerus, general manager of Guelph Transit.

“Guelph Transit is gearing up,” he said. “Our plan is that we get an agreement in place as soon as possible.”

Last August the U of G Central Student Association opted out of the plan, known as UPass, for the fall and winter semesters, citing the lack of in-person students.

With negotiations set to begin and a student referendum required before it could be re-launched, the earliest UPass could be back is next January, notes a city staff budget update report released on Friday.

“It is anticipated that this vote will occur in the fall,” the report states.

It’s not yet clear if students will be returning to campus this September or whether online learning will continue.

"We are closely following public health guidelines and government regulations and are currently planning for a significant number of courses at all year levels to be offered face-to-face or to include in-person components such as labs or tutorials," said university spokesperson Deidre Healey in an email.

Updates are available here.

“We’re hopeful that there’s going to be a large number of people returning to class,” said Gerus. “We’re going to make sure that our plans are adjustable.”

During a “normal year,” UPass generates about $7.1 million in transit revenue, said city treasurer Tara Baker, in addition to a late night contract of nearly $400,000.

“At this point in time, staff do not yet have a clear understanding of in-person enrolment and for this reason, it’s difficult to quantify revenue from the sale of post-secondary passes,” she said in an email response when asked about the difference in revenue between UPass and post-secondary transit passes.

A semester-long transit pass currently costs $272.

Traditionally, UPass has been a subsidized pass that all undergraduate and graduate students pay for as part of mandatory student fees.