Thursday, March 28, 2013

The class system is alive and well and living at the GRT

(Conestoga College, WLU and UW fares are based on a 4-month term, and I converted that to monthly to compare them to monthly pass prices.)(Update: Perhaps the figure for high school students should be $47, which is the monthly equivalent of a 5-month pass.)

There is something wrong with a system where the privileged are treated to nearly free transit, while the less privileged are forced to pay nearly full fare.

Add to that that the universities are getting a billion dollar train that bypasses most of Waterloo to provide improved comfort to their students, while the Region says it's too poor to create decent bus routes to Conestoga College.

The difference isn't just that one set of students goes to university while the other goes to community college. It's also that the universities are in Waterloo and the community college is in Kitchener.

As a UW alumna and Waterloo resident, I'm ashamed.


tarobins said...

You are leaving out a detail that every UW and WLU student has to pay for the pass, unlike Conestoga College. That's a bulk purchase of about 47,000 passes between the two schools. Also, not all the students will use the pass every day, because many live on campus or close to the school.

So between a pretty large bulk purchase and a some students subsidizing other students, a discount shouldn't be surprising. You can debate the size of the discount, but you should be at least honest and complete in your analysis of why there is a discount.

tarobins said...

In 2012, GRT conventional transit has a passenger revenue of $26.6M. If 47000 students paid 16.88*8 Months*47000 students = $6.3M then the UW and WLU students paid in about 23% of the revenue.


tarobins said...

Actually the more I think about it, the more ridiculous your post is. The issue has nothing to do with class. The universities or the student federations negotiated the rates with GRT based on a massive purchase. The same happens in any large business transaction, particularly when you're talking almost 1/4 of their annual revenue. It shouldn't be surprising that such a large discount could be negotiated, and the discount has nothing to do with class.

If conestoga college negotiated to get all their students to buy a pass, they could probably get a substantial discount too.

Yappa said...

Hi Tarobins,

The whole issue (as has been reported in the Record repeatedly) is that Conestoga College students are asking for the same deal as UW/WLU students but the Region has turned them down. CC students are now circulating a petition to that effect.

Conestoga College President John Tibbits is supporting the students and calling for the region to offer CC students the Upass.

Regional Council voted against extending the Upass to CC earlier this year. They said they can't afford it.

tarobins said...

If the whole issue is that the students want the U-Pass, but can't get it, then why didn't you say in your original post that that was the issue? You didn't make any reference to a story about the conestoga students wanting a universal pass.

Even if that is the issue, it's still not a matter of class but one of economics. In this story

the president of the student body says they have 10000 students. If they each paid $90/term as suggested in the article, that would be 2.7M/year assuming 3 four-month terms a year, while the claimed cost for the increased service would be 6.5M. So the issue is still one of economics and not "class".

Yappa said...

Hi again,

The important point, to me, is that transit funds are being distributed unfairly between the universities and colleges. The issue isn't how much money there is, but how it's being distributed.

Public transit is never self-supporting, and transit decisions aren't made on that basis. Even if they were, CC students could not be expected to pick up the entire tab for upgrading the service to south Kitchener.

I have heard the argument many times that every student pays for the upass, so it's not expensive for the transit system. That's just not true. The stats for fare contribution in the GRT budget are lowered by the existence of upass. It is a drain on the system.

I'm not arguing that we should abandon upass: just the opposite. We should expand it, not only to Conestoga College but also to corporate entities (such as groups of companies in an area).

This all gets back to my issue that our transit budget is being unfairly distributed.

tarobins said...

"I have heard the argument many times that every student pays for the upass, so it's not expensive for the transit system. That's just not true. The stats for fare contribution in the GRT budget are lowered by the existence of upass. It is a drain on the system."

I'd be interested in seeing the data for those statistics.

Yappa said...

Hi Tarobins,

I tried to get that data and was unable to. However, there was supporting data in an article in the Record today.

In proposing a discount for CC students from $227 to $204 per 4-month term, the Record says, "The move is expected to cost about $152,000 in 2013 and 2014. Another $25,000 contingency is being set aside for potentional additional service demand."

Note that the cost for extra bus service is separated from the $152K. So that means that for a discount of $6 per month, there is a signficant subsidization cost (I'm assuming it's lost revenue).

CC has only 9,000 full-time students and they are not currently heavy transit users (because the Doon campus is not well serviced). Plus of course the UW subsidy is nearly $50/month instead of this proposed $6/month... so university subsidization would be much, much higher.