Can you opt out of paying the MRU UPass fee?
by Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
Prompted by an anonymous post from the community Instagram page, @mruchatter, some students from Mount Royal University have observed how there are only limited ways for students to opt out of the UPass program and avoid paying a mandatory fee of around $300 in total for both fall and winter semesters.
The UPass program is an initiative in partnership with Calgary Transit aiming to provide a reduced fare based on a four-month semester. It makes way for students to avail of public transportation affordably.
But some students who are driving to school and are already paying for parking have voiced their opinion on how they cannot opt out of this program, therefore paying double.
An anonymous post from the aforementioned Instagram page said, “So frustrating that we are required to pay for UPass even if we will never use it as we drive to campus. With tuition increases and inflation as high as it is, you would think that MRU would give you the option to opt-out.”
This post got a few comments agreeing with the sentiment and leading to discussions of who can opt out and who cannot.
According to the UPass FAQ page, there are only six groups of students who can opt out of the UPass program. This includes the following:
- Students who are physically disabled and who use the Handi-Bus or Access Calgary
- Students who are legally blind and receive a CNIB bus pass
- Students who are taking a directed field studies course which requires them to move from Calgary to participate in this program
- Outbound exchange students who are studying abroad
- Senior citizens who have purchased a senior citizens’ bus pass
- Calgary Transit employees who can ride transit for free as part of their Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Students who are able to purchase low-income bus passes, which they can get for as low as $5.60 per month, are also not allowed to opt out of the UPass program.
On the UPass program FAQ, MRU does address the concern of why students who drive to campus every day and pay for parking still have to pay for the UPass fees.
According to the statement, students voted for a mandatory UPass program through a referendum back in 2005 which was 18 years ago, where 67 per cent of the student body voted to implement the mandatory fee.
The voting for the program also continued in 2006 and 2007 where 59 per cent and 65 per cent of the student body from those respective years voted for the mandatory fee to stay.
The goal of the program is to provide “cheaper transportation options” and ” lowering greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable transit choices”.
Back in 2005, MRU was still called Mount Royal College and the UPass fee for each semester was $80.