Ottawa Student Transit Coalition demands fair student bus passes

OTTAWA, July 16, 2013 /CNW/ - Students from all seven students' associations across the city, alongside Ecology Ottawa, are hand-delivering letters to members of city council demanding that the age cap on student bus passes be removed.

Ottawa City Council has recently capped access to student bus passes at 19 years old. In 2009, the City put in place an age cap of 27 on student bus passes only to reverse its decision a couple of months later following student and community pressure.

"Age does not define a student," said Sherline Pieris from the Algonquin Students' Association. "Tuition fees are not determined by age, nor are the services offered to ensure student success in post-secondary institutions. Keep fares fair."

College and university students are struggling with the soaring costs of tuition fees, books, rent and other costs of living and are largely dependent on public transit. The new age cap of 19 on student bus passes excludes tens of thousands of students in Ottawa from affordable public transit.

While many students are eligible for the U-Pass program during the fall and winter semesters, this program does not apply to students at Algonquin College or La Cité collégiale. Nor does the program apply to any part-time students, or students who take classes during the summer months, even if they are enrolled in full-time courses.

"Student debt doesn't disappear because it's summer," said Anne-Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). "Students rely on public transit to travel to summer jobs and courses and are expected to do so at full cost. No other major Canadian city functions this way."

Making transit less affordable for students who are both disproportionate users of transit as well as economically vulnerable contradicts the commitment to "transit-oriented development" detailed in the City's Draft Official Plan, tabled on June 25.

Students are requesting meetings with city councillors to discuss the elimination of the age cap.

Representatives from the Ottawa Student Transit Coalition will be hand-delivering letters to city councillors and the mayor at 9am, followed by an informal media scrum in front of City Hall.

The Ottawa Student Transit Coalition represents college, undergraduate and graduate students at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, Saint Paul University, La Cité Collégiale, and Algonquin College. The member associations are:
Graduate Students' Association (Carleton University), Local 78 of the Canadian Federation of Students
Carleton University Students' Association
Student Federation of the University of Ottawa/Fédération étudiante de l'université d'Ottawa, Local 41 of the Canadian Federation of Students Graduate Students' Association of the University of Ottawa/Association des étudiant.e.s diplômé.e.s de l'Université d'Ottawa, Local 94 of the Canadian Federation of Students
Saint Paul University Student Association/L'Association des Étudiant(e)s de l'Université Saint Paul, Local 85 of the Canadian Federation of Students Association étudiante de La Cité collégiale, Local 107 of the Canadian Federation of Students Algonquin Students' Association

Ecology Ottawa is a not-for-profit, grassroots, volunteer-driven organization working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada.

SOURCE: Ottawa Student Transit Coalition

For further information:

To schedule interviews with representatives from any of the Ottawa Student Transit Coalition student associations, please contact: Mathieu Murphy-Perron at 613-704-2188 or coordination@gsaed.ca.

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Ottawa Student Transit Coalition

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