Passing on the U-Pass
Normally, I try not to concern myself too much with the dramas that go on at Carleton University. God only knows what those Ravens will be up to next. However, when I overheard the story of Kelsie Jones, a Carleton student who was recently fined $610 for trying to sell her U-Pass, I couldn’t help but sympathize. In case any of you have forgotten or never bothered to find out what that additional $290 charge on this year’s tuition bill was this year, the U-Pass is a mandatory bus pass for all full-time students at the University of Ottawa as well as Carleton University. The additional charge to tuition was to cover the expenses of the U-Pass. The pass entitles you to the services provided by OC Transpo between September 2010 and April 2011. For students living in the suburbs of Ottawa, the bus pass is an advantage since the cost of a regular bus pass is $91.50 a month, or $732 for the 8 month span the U-Pass covers. For students who live within walking distance of the school, it is an unwanted financial burden. Effectively, everyone at the school is compelled to buy these passes but only a fraction of the students actually benefit; Socialism at its finest. Jones decided that she wanted to try and get back some of the money that she was forced to pay to the University. She put her U-Pass up for sale online and received an offer to buy it for $250. She agreed to meet the buyer in front of the Sears at Rideau Mall to complete the transaction. Before she knew it, she was ambushed by two OC Transpo Bylaw Officers and slapped with a fat fine. The officers told her that selling the U-Pass was on a par with selling a drivers’ license. The reality is that this student was innovative in conspiring to regain some of the capital she had lost paying tuition that included a U-Pass for which she had no need or want. She was not only reprimanded for her reaction, but she was also given a $610 ticket which now puts Jones $900 further in the hole because of the pass. On top of that, one can only ask, “where is all of the extra money that the OC Transpo is collecting going towards?” Is it to pay for these Bylaw Officers playing undercover cops? If so, that does not seem like a very appropriate use of the money. What difference does it make whether Joe Shmo or I use my bus pass? It seems like it only serves as a way to ensure that the OC Transpo collects all the additional profits of charging extra students to buy the U-Pass while not disrupting the sales of their other passes to other residents of the city. If the students at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University are forced to purchase bus passes on top of paying for already steep tuition costs, then those students who reap no benefit from the passes should at least be given the opportunity to regain some of the financial loss they have suffered. But for right now, if you want to sell your U-Pass, just don’t say anything about it online; Big Brother is watching you!