This month, hitting the polls is an important task for NAIT students. In addition to electing our new NAITSA executives, students will be voting on the upcoming referendum for the U-Pass contract.
“I can’t tell you how to vote but if you don’t vote and you want your U-Pass, you risk losing it,” says NAITSA Advocacy Director Jason Roth. “We have to get 10 per cent of eligible voters out to vote. Just staying home and saying ‘People will pass it on my behalf’ is the same as making the decision to get rid of your U-Pass.”
While some NAIT students grumble about the mandatory U-Pass fee, the deal – especially the newly renegotiated contract – is a bargain for students.
“In Year 1 of the next contract, starting September 2017, and the following Year 2, the price will remain at $170, increasing to $175 in Year 3 and $180 in Year 4.”
Plus, the deal adds new municipalities, increasing the service area to encompass Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County Transit, Fort Saskatchewan, Spruce Grove and Leduc.
With an increase of $10 over the next four years, transit users wanting to know how this compares to a monthly pass may be surprised. “Our discount over what you would pay in buying monthly passes would actually increase over the term, right now we’re at 50 per cent.”
“We feel it is a very good deal for students and typically when things aren’t that controversial, it doesn’t stimulate enough interest. This isn’t all that controversial this time around because there isn’t a price increase for the first two years and there are more municipalities on it. There’s much more value for it so students might say ‘Sure, I’m OK with it’ but then they don’t vote.”
The referendum voter turnout requirement means that not voting is essentially a vote against the pass. “If you’re not OK with it, vote against it, if you are in favour of it, vote for it.”
There are some added benefits to the new deal, including an earlier start date and a pilot project for replacing lost cards at a prorated
“In the new contract starting in the fall of September 2017, your U-Pass will be valid starting Aug. 25, not Sept. 1. So the week before things get underway you can get your U-Pass and use it to come to campus, get your books, do your orientation. We’ll start giving out those stickers well before the 25th, a week or perhaps two weeks early.
“We also have a program that we were testing as a pilot that we have written into the new contract. If you lose your U-Pass, if you have to replace it, as the months go by there is a prorated cost. If you lose it after September, in October you will only pay 75 per cent of the cost, 50 per cent in November, and 25 per cent in December. Same thing goes for the winter semester,” Roth said.
“For heaven’s sake, don’t not vote.”