After several major changes to the distribution and nature of the student bus pass, it took only a week into the school year for student concerns to be heard.
The initial transition to a two-card bus pass for the Hamilton Street Railway brought with it a steep hike in the cost of replacement for lost or stolen bus passes: an initial replacement would cost $100, with every replacement afterwards costing students $150 apiece.
That replacement fee has been overhauled for a progressive tier system that begins at $25, the previous cost of replacement for students. Subsequent replacements will cost $40, $100 and $150 for all further replacements, if necessary.
“We kept speaking and working with the HSR,” said VP (Finance) Daniel D’Angela. “One of the things the HSR entrusted to us—the HSR has been a very helpful partner in this—was giving us the authority to adjudicate replacements on a case-by-case basis.”
D’Angela explained that the Board of Directors had been in conversation with the HSR ever since the fee increase was announced.
In fact, the MSU has spared no expense in ensuring that students will receive the benefit of the doubt when it comes to obtaining a replacement bus pass. In addition to a lowered cost of replacement fees, there will be an exemption for students “…if there is any sort of reason why [they] can’t pay any one of those fees.”
When changes were first announced to the implementation of the bus passes in August, students were quick to express their dissatisfaction; an online petition to stop the replacement fee hike grew to over 800 signatures in just two weeks.
“I think it’s always helpful when you have students that are engaged in these issues. It helps us, really,” said D’Angela.
“When you can see it’s something students really want, it’s very helpful to us when we’re working with partners within the city, within the school, and something which we always encourage is students getting involved in these issues and getting engaged.”
D’Angela iterated that the current model of the pricing structure was based on structures that have appeared to work at other schools, but ultimately came down to what they felt was appropriate.
While the update is certainly a victory for students who were displeased with the initial changes, an assessment period
will be necessary to evaluate how important the new changes are. Whether or not the concern of fraud was justified, the system for replacement is far less secure than the sticker distribution in the past.
However, D’Angela isn’t worried about students abusing the system.
“We’ll re-evaluate when the time comes, but in my eyes, I don’t think fraud for students is an issue,” he said. “Not any more than out in the regular community.”
“We wouldn’t put in a system like this if we thought students would abuse it.”