Opinion: Support the UPass

Photo credit: Sara Ericsson, Kings County News

My name is Meg, and I’m a first year Politics student at Acadia. Maybe you have seen me around campus lately, paper petition in hand; wild sparks of hope in my eyes? I’ve spent my first semester talking to my classmates and wondering what life would be like for us all if we had better access to public transportation.  All of this wondering has left me with this dream that Acadia students and Kings Transit could collaborate to make our world a better place through a UPass.

I’m no fool. I’ve done my research and I know that this was offered before. Looking at the previous offer, I’m not surprised that it failed.  Talking with Kings Transit, I see that they have learned from their past proposal and understand that Acadia students are financially prudent, educated consumers, who aren’t interested in a service that doesn’t work for them. They took the comments from the last UPass attempt and worked to improve their service.  That’s the cool thing about Kings Transit; they are adaptable and agile as an organization.  Because of comments from Acadia students, each bus has free wifi and real-time, live-tracking route information through the DoubleMap app, which is free for anyone to download.  If Acadia students are willing to join and create a UPass for the school, Kings Transit has created an amazing offer for us, and every time I read the details my mind is blown a little more.

So, what’s the offer?

You need later service hours in the evening?  You’ve got it Acadia.  With the collective purchase of the bus pass, Kings Transit will be able to extend service hours until midnight on a newly created route for Acadia students between Wolfville, Port Williams, Kentville, and New Minas.

You want to be able to ride the bus on Sunday?  You’ve got it Acadia.  Kings Transit would be able to provide a Sunday service on the aforementioned route, with an increased frequency to every half-hour.

You want to travel to Halifax more often, and more affordably? You’ve got it Acadia.  Kings Transit will create a weekly shuttle to Halifax for Acadia students, leaving campus Friday night and returning on Sunday afternoon.

Kings Transit would be able to provide these extended services alongside unlimited access to the current services for the low rate of $180 per student, payable at the start of each school year.  That works out to $20 per month.  The going rate of a round-trip ticket to Halifax is over $40.  Not only would the student population have more independence and mobility, but also this pass would pay for itself with infrequent use alone.

If you like the sound of this, I’m currently collecting signatures on my petition to have the Acadia Students’ Union facilitate a referendum vote in February and I would be thrilled if you would sign.  If you really like the sound of this, please come and vote YES to a student UPass, and tell your friends too!  If you’d like to chat transit, or campaigning, or just get a beer, please email me at [email protected] and lets get this party started!

Meg Hodges is a first year Politics student and a Municipal Councillor for the County of Kings

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People are against this idea because it means that a majority of students will be forced to pay for a service they do not or rarely use. Wolfville is not a large city where people are spread all over the city and need to take the bus to get to campus. Most people live on residence or in housing close to campus and are within a walking distance to everything they need.

As a student it feels like everyone feels like they have the right to take my money to fund whatever pet project they have. Whether it’s the increase in tuition, constant increases and planned increases in student union fees to fund pet projects such as the Axe renovation or a new student union building and now this. Students are on a tight budget already and adding more and more fees and mandatory programs literally takes money out of our pockets that could be spent on things such as food, rent and tuition.

If revenues from people who actually use this service and government grants are not enough to make these improvements then so be it. You shouldn’t try to force students to subsidize your bus service (whether they use it or not), especially since students are already overburdened with expenses and loans.

Lastly, have any students actually asked for this? It seems like Kings Transit is trying to impose this on us to create a new revenue stream, not because of any organic demand for such a service.

I shop at local businesses and walk everywhere I go. Seeing as this proposal would take money out of my pocket and give me nothing in return, I will be voting no and encouraging everyone I know to do the same.

So many flaws with this idea. Am I guaranteed a seat on any bus by paying this fee? Majority of students would only use it to go to Halifax- yet I doubt there’s a bus to fit everyone who will want to go for a long weekend; let alone having to find somewhere to stay not one, but two nights.

Students have everything they need in Wolfville, busses to surrounding areas only service those who live in them- not students. Find me someone who isn’t from Kings County who supports this.

I must say this is a rather shortsighted comment. There are a number of fees that you already pay that you likely don’t even know you should be angry about. This fee would make life easier for everyone. Getting to and from school for a number of students is something that is difficult for them on a day to day basis. I understand not wanting to pay money for something that you don’t anticipate you’ll use however I can say that I would have saved in the neighbourhood of 1000-1500$ if this were a service that I could have used over the five years I’ve been here. Trips to Halifax, the airport, New Minas and elsewhere are very costly. This would also help out students who have issues with mobility which is a huge advantage for the community.

All I can say to the negative comments is I respect where you are coming from. I will say however, that I reached my 420 signatures in less than two days. I talked to every single person and very few people had a negative thing to say. All of that without mentioning that my initial petition which had 150 additional signatures.

People deeply discredit the experience of our international students who are starving for a better transportation system. You should have seen the 600+ eyes of folks I talked to light up at the idea of these extended services. Many people couldn’t grab the pen fast enough, and many many more sought me out to find me on campus and bring their friends to sign.

This is not a “big brother” or Kings Transit jamming this down people’s throats. I truly believe in the benefit of increased autonomy for students and greater flexibility for people to find part time jobs, get to the hospital, avoid drinking and driving, and simply escape campus and Wolfville.

I’ve surpassed what I needed for signatures, collecting more than 300 today alone. You can say that no one wants this, but I have looked into the eyes of hundreds of young people who do, and I’m doing this for them.

I think this is fantastic and I support it and I have a car. This opens up more affordable housing options for those who live off campus. This means students who currently have cars they can barely pay for would not need them. Many students still shop in New Minas and many would enjoy visiting other areas of our beautiful valley more often. Lots and lots of post-secondary campuses do this. As a commenter above said, there are already fees we pay for services many of us don’t use. Kings Transit is a non profit, which makes them flexible but also means they don’t make profits and need to generate other income to expand services. I think this is a great idea and clearly many others do if 400+ signatures were collected on a few days.