An unprecedented student voter turnout for an SFU student society referendum narrowly approved a universal transit pass (U-PASS) for students.
Almost 6,000 students out of a possible 21,684 cast their vote, with 2,942 voting in favour and 2,909 voting against. There were 102 spoiled ballots.
The U-PASS, which will be available in May 2003, offers all students unlimited access to TransLink's Lower Mainland transit services for a monthly fee of $23. Each semester, the student society will add $92 to student fees for four months' transit.
In addition, the university will pay TransLink $2 per student. The regular price for a comparable student pass is $63 a month or $252 for four months.
“What I'm most happy about is the number of students who came out to vote,” says Jan Gunn, a third year political science student and student union representative. “This is the largest turnout ever for a student society referendum. I'm pleased that people participated in the democratic process.”
The U-PASS, says Gunn, isn't just about commuting to campus by transit.
“We hope this will change transit behaviour earlier in students' lives and that they'll be more likely to use transit once they graduate,” says Gunn. “That's the big benefit for TransLink.”
Gunn also notes that with more than 21,000 potential transit users, the SFU community should have a larger voice in TransLink affairs. The contract with TransLink calls for a service review committee of representatives from the student society, SFU administration and TransLink, as well as an appeals committee.