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U-Pass BC: a provincewide transit program for post-secondary students

Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Shirley Bond, Premier Gordon Campbell, and Nimmi Takkar of the Canadian Federation of Students at the announcement of U-Pass BC. Photo from the <a href=>BC Government</a>.

Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Shirley Bond, Premier Gordon Campbell, and Nimmi Takkar of the Canadian Federation of Students at the announcement of U-Pass BC. Photo from the BC Government.

As you may have heard, the Province of British Columbia announced the U-Pass BC program today, which offers a universal U-Pass transit program to students at all publicly funded post-secondary institutions.

Here’s the BC government’s press release, and articles from the Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Straight, and 24 Hours (it’s mostly the same news: I just thought I’d throw in a variety of sources!).

Essentially, the cost is $30 per month for students in Metro Vancouver. For schools outside our region, the cost will vary. It’s not mandatory for schools to take part: schools will have to hold a referendum, and the student body must vote to join the program.

This is a provincial announcement so I won’t necessarily have access to all the answers, but feel free to ask anyway and I’ll see if I can help :)

Update, Friday June 11, 2010: There’s now a U-Pass BC FAQ on our website.


  • By Phyzz, June 9, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

    I got one. If the province is unifying the U-Pass programs does that Greater Vancouver Passes will eventually be valid on B.C. Transit systems like Victoria?

  • By Tim Choi, June 9, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

    So I guess us SFU students will have to pay an additional ~$15-$20 =/ I guess that’s not a lot in the grand scheme of thousands in tuition, though.

  • By Phyzz, June 10, 2010 @ 7:51 am

    @Tim: An extra 15.64 per four month semester going by the numbers in my account for SFU. But they can’t change it till next year when our U-Pass agreement expires and comes up for renewal. And that’s going to be a ‘fun’ referendum campaign. Probably bring out the small drive only contingent in force.

  • By Ric, June 10, 2010 @ 11:27 am

    Well, I’m a Kwantlen student. Does this now mean that Kwantlen will now be getting the Upass, as they have been talking about getting a Upass for a long time?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 10, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    Phyzz: I’ve passed your question along… will let you know if an answer comes back.

  • By Patrick M., June 10, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    I’m really curious, are the costs of this program going to come out of Translink coffers or the provincial pocketbook?

    If the former, I’m hugely against it, if the latter, totally down with it.

    I want translink to have more money so they can build me a skytrain line to UBC :)

  • By ???, June 10, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

    I too wondered about who’s to pay. The current U-pass program is supported by student fees which the student body votes to support or oppose. If the U-pass is mandatory, I hope this means provincial student fees cover the costs, not the general tax payer.

    Perhaps it upsets me more to see students with their fancy foreign cars selling the U-passes on Craigslist, while the taxpayer foots the bill. That just doesn’t seem fair.

  • By ???, June 10, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

    Here’s the story where they show you how to sell your U-pass and how successfully they can be used.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 11, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    Patrick, ???: the program is entirely a provincial initiative, and they will be providing the funding for it, not TransLink. Here’s the quote from the B.C. government press release describing the funding:

    The Province will invest over $20 million through April 2013 to support implementation of the U-Pass BC Program in Metro Vancouver. In all other regions, the Province will provide funding as required to ensure the U-Pass rate remains below $30 per month or to enable new institutions to join the U-Pass BC program at existing rates.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 11, 2010 @ 9:43 am

    ???: one more thing, as far as I know, I believe they will be upgrading the card as part of this U-Pass program to help avoid the fraud you’ve pointed out.

  • By Patrick M., June 11, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    Fantastic! Thanks, I wasn’t able to tell from the news reports, they didn’t go into enough detail.

    I think it’s a solid initiative to have, and I’m glad the province isn’t forcing Translink to make up the difference between student levy and the actual costs.

    As for supposed ‘kids with fancy cars’ selling their u-passes, on craigslist, I think that’s more than a little bit of chicken little at work.

    Does it happen? Sure, but it’s such a small number that it doesn’t really matter.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, June 11, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

    By the by, a U-Pass BC FAQ has now been added to the TransLink website. I’ve edited the post to add the link in now!

  • By ???, June 11, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

    With the number of ads, especially so many months after the news story came out. I think it a problem.

    Perhaps the Upass should be part of their student id, like the Fasttrack decal. Perhaps students wouldn’t be willing to part with their id so easily.

  • By ???, June 11, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

    BTW… in my earlier post, I identified only one posting…. click on the link below to see the current number of available sellers and buyers..

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, June 12, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

    @ ???

    That’s a great idea. The pass is for the students, whether they use it or not.

    ;^p Now that that’s settled, we just need to find a way to get the province to give the rest of us discounts. ;^D

  • By ???, June 12, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    Then again, how much does it cost to replace stolen student id? $10? Is it enough to discourage resale of Upass id?

    How about the putting the student’s residential address is printed on it…. would that discourage people from reselling their “lost” Upass.

  • By Nick, June 15, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

    To: By ???

    It is illegal for the holder of a UPass to sell it. It is also illegal to use someone else’s UPass. These people could be fined, or even charged criminally.

  • By Kellie, September 1, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

    The UPASS should be available for ‘ALL’ post secondary students despite what school they are going to.. all they should have to do is show they are enrolled and pay the fee. My daughter is in a smaller College and because they don’t have enough students they don’t qualify for the UPASS. How is this fair? I’ve sent emails to John Coombs and UPASS as well as Translink. What more can I do? Is there a way for her to get this UPASS that I don’t know about?

  • By ???, September 1, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

    Upass are voted by the student body. If they agree to the student fee increases to ALL students. Then YES they can have the Upass.

    However not all students want to participate and see their fees go up.

    Perhaps a smaller college just needs to agree to higher fees than larger colleges.

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