U-Pass reduces campus traffic

April 28, 2005, vol. 33, no. 1
By Diane Luckow



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Each day, there are 2000 fewer cars driving up to the Burnaby campus than there were two years ago, despite increases in student enrollment.

The dramatic drop is all thanks to U-Pass, the subsidized student transit pass introduced in fall 2003 after a student referendum approved it by just 33 votes.

In this year's March referendum, 83 per cent of students voted in favour of retaining U-Pass.

There's no question that the transit program is a success, says Leanne Dalton, associate director of the U-Pass program. “Eighty-one per cent of our students are using the U-Pass and an additional four per cent say they plan to use it.”

Statistics show that by fall 2004, 48 per cent more students were riding transit to and from the Burnaby campus - a weekday total of 15,100 person-trips.

Organizing, administering and monitoring the program and the complicated, three-party contract between TransLink, SFU and the Simon Fraser student society is a full-time job for Dalton, who was hired in May 2003 to get the project up and running.

“It's a $6.5 million annual program,” explains Dalton. Every semester she has to ensure which of the 22,000 enrolled students are entitled to U-Pass, then charge them the fee, collect it, account for it, and send it to TransLink. Some students are ineligible because of where they live, where their co-op job may be or whether they're enrolled in an online or distance education course.

The job doesn't end there, however. The contract with TransLink requires that U-Passes must be monitored daily for student dropouts or address changes outside of the contractual agreement.

“I do re-assessments of the student body on a daily basis to report cancellations,” says Dalton.

Much of her job involves internal public relations to help faculty, staff and students understand SFU's contractual obligations and their impact on the university.

“U-Pass has been fascinating,” says Dalton. “I've become familiar with every single department and faculty and have learned how all of them are administered. And it's all because of bus passes.”

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