Every three years, the McMaster Students Union, McMaster University and the Hamilton Street Railway negotiate a new bus pass agreement. The existing agreement, which was last voted on in 2017 and will conclude at the end of August, is coming to the end of its three year term. It now needs to be reevaluated through a referendum.
This year, McMaster’s HSR Referendum coincides with the 2020 MSU Presidential Elections, just as it did in 2014 and 2017. The 2020 HSR Referendum will determine the availability and cost of bus services offered to students for the next three years, until 2023.
Before 2014, McMaster students only had access to an eight-month bus pass, encompassing September to April of each academic year. The existing HSR agreement was first instituted in 2014 by then Vice President (Finance) Jeffrey Doucet. As a result, McMaster students are able to use their bus passes year-round. Students also pay for increased bus frequency between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and late night service coverage until 3 a.m. on Route 51-University, which runs through Westdale, the McMaster campus and student housing near Emerson Street and Whitney Avenue.
In the 2017 HSR referendum, McMaster students voted overwhelmingly in support of continuing their deal with the HSR regarding bus passes.
On Dec. 8, 2019, current vice president (Finance) Alexandrea Johnston circulated a memo provided to the Student Representative Assembly regarding the cost breakdown of the existing HSR agreement for the next three years.
“I strongly feel that these are fair and reasonable fees for the next three years. When comparing our fees with other Universities, this is [a] deal for students that I am confident putting forward,” wrote Johnston in the memo.
The 2020 HSR referendum will follow the ranked voting system used in the MSU Presidential Elections. McMaster students will have the opportunity to choose between the following options via a ranked ballot voting system:
- A twelve-month (September to August) bus pass
- A twelve-month (September. to August) bus pass with expanded Route 51 service
- An eight-month (September to April) bus pass
- An eight-month (September to April) bus pass with expanded Route 51 service
- No bus pass at all
Cost of 2020 HSR Referendum Options
According to the MSU Elections Department’s webpage, students had the opportunity to form a campaign team to advocate for another one of the options provided in this referendum but were required to complete registration by Jan. 17. A post regarding HSR Referendum nominations was made on the MSU Elections Facebook Page on Jan. 7. Unlike the MSU Presidential Candidate nominations and Student Representative Assembly By-Elections, the post was not shared and did not receive any likes.
Voting for the 2020 HSR Referendum closes on Jan. 30 at 5 p.m.