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York U student unions launch petition, gear up for 'fare' fight

The cancellation of on-campus bus service by York Region Transit and, beginning Jan. 5, 2019, GO Transit bus stops, to York University's Keele Campus is forcing student commuters to pay double fares, union reps say.

The provincially run GO Transit is the latest to announce it is pulling its bus service out of the York University Keele Campus, a move that will double transit costs for many cash-strapped students, says the union representing them.

That transit setback follows closely on the heels of a Sept. 4 cancellation of York Region’s YRT/Viva buses to the campus, forcing its riders to either pay a second fare to the TTC to ride the new subway onto campus or walk the 20 to 30 minutes from the nearest drop-off station.

It’s a situation that has reached the breaking point for a majority of the 53,000 undergraduate students who commute from York Region, Brampton and Mississauga, York Federation of Students vice-president of campaigns and advocacy Sebastien Lalonde said.

“If students have to pay an extra fare to the TTC, that could add up to an extra $1,000 a year in transit expenses that they’d have to scrape together, on top of tuition, books, living expenses and current transit costs. Where is that money going to come from? It’s not as if there are more grants available,” Lalonde said.

In response to last September's shuttering of YRT’s on-campus bus stops, the York Federation teamed up with counterparts, including the York University Graduate Students’ Association, and York University staff and faculty associations, to launch an online campaign and petition known as Yu Ride, Save Transit Now.

It has so far collected 12,081 signatures on a petition that calls for the immediate return of YRT/Viva buses to campus, a commitment from GO Transit to continue its service, as well as other transit agencies, such as Brampton’s ZUM, to maintain its campus bus routes and, an undertaking from the Ontario government, area MPPs and municipal politicians to work toward fare integration between all transit providers.

“Ideally, we’d like to see YRT/Viva and GO Transit maintain its on-campus bus stops,” Lalonde said. “Fare integration will also help a lot of students who are struggling with a financial burden already, but it’s about more than cost. The cancellation of on-campus transit stops also adds time to students’ commute, and it’s particularly hard on those with disabilities.”

The lack of public pressure on transit agencies is contributing to the lack of action on fare integration, Lalonde said, adding that all commuters, not just students, would benefit from a single-fare system that would allow people to transfer between various transit providers to get where they need to go.  

In addition to the petition, organizers aim to collect data via a survey about students’ use of transit and their experience as a commuter.

To learn more about the Yu Ride petition and survey, visit here



Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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