This fall students can expect to see Kelowna Transit campaigning on campus. Coming this November, UBCSUO will be holding a Transit Referendum. The City of Kelowna and Kelowna Transit are partnered in levying an increase in transit rates across the board for all pass types. This includes the UBC Okanagan Upass. The Upass is currently $70 but if the referendum passes it will rise to $80.
49% of all ridership in Kelowna is students from Okanagan College, the location high schools, and UBCO. According to UBCSUO President Tom Macauley 47% of UBCO students use their Upass.
Because the Upass is tied to the University Act by law, the UBCSUO must hold a referendum for students to vote yes or no on the issue of raising the cost of the Upass.
In previous years, Kelowna Transit has campaigned on campus in the weeks prior to the previous referendums. According to the Student Union we can expect to see Kelowna Transit on campus with information regarding their services and the referendum again this year.
The last Transit Referendum held was in 2011. During this last referendum Kelowna Transit campaigned with a large agenda of which most of their promises were achieved. From 2011, there have been many improvements with the transit system in Kelowna such as the bus times at bus stops and the increasing number of exchanges.
As of now with this referendum, Kelowna Transit has not promised any new upgrades to the current system but have argued that this fee increase in necessary to keep the system running.
Tom Macauley reassures that even with fee increases the UBCSUO is in constant contact with Kelowna Transit about transit ideas and issues regarding students, including more transit to locations of high student population such as Quail Ridge.
If the student population votes yes in this coming referendum then we can expect to see the fee increase soon.
In addition, there are some improvements we could potentially see in the nearby future. The UBCSUO is looking to implement changes to the Upass by replacing the sticker on the student card with a swipe card similar to the Vancouver campus system. Through this they would hope to achieve more accurate percentages in ridership. The University has committed $30,000 and Kelowna Transit has committed $50,000 to this project. The Upass is a three-way agreement between the UBCSUO, the University, and Kelowna Transit.
However if the student population votes no we suspect that the Upass will no longer be available. The next equivalent transit pass that is similar to the Upass is $180 for 4 months.
The referendum is tentatively set for November 4th and 5th however the UBCSUO will be releasing official dates in the coming weeks.
The UBCSUO is encouraging all students to get informed and vote in the Transit Referendum.