College renews bus pass deal with city

The City of Whitehorse and Yukon College have extended an agreement to allow full-time students to use their student IDs as bus passes. The pilot project started in the autumn of 2013.

The City of Whitehorse and Yukon College have extended an agreement to allow full-time students to use their student IDs as bus passes.

The pilot project started in the autumn of 2013. It’s been renewed for this school year, until the end of May.

It cost the college and student union each $22,289 to offset the cost of the discounted bus pass for 385 full-time students in the fall term, and 334 full-time students in the winter term.

The biggest benefit is being able to take advantage of public transportation in the evenings, according to the college’s student union president, Matt Landry. “It’s huge,” he said.

“Almost every program offers night classes. Prior to this taking place, the buses stopped at 6 p.m. People who didn’t have cars had to take taxis or get rides to school. Now, the last bus comes at 10:20 p.m. so that covers every class from the beginning of the day to the end.”

Working at the college bookstore where students pick up their student IDs, Landry said new students are always surprised and happy to learn their cards double as bus passes.

“I couldn’t be happier about how this has been progressing. I hope it’s a sustainable program for years to come.”

There have been talks to expand the program and offer the transit passes to part-time students of the Yukon College as well, according to Michael Vernon, the college’s communications coordinator.

“We haven’t gone down that road yet, because it’s a cost to the college and the student union,” he said.

After two years of instability, the student union sorted out its financial situation in early 2013.

The revamped student union realized it had a surplus of more than $80,000.

While discussing ways to spend the money, the transit pass idea resurfaced and talks were underway with the college and the city to set up the project.

Yukon College President Karen Barnes lauded the city in a news release for taking the proposal seriously.

“The city’s decision to extend transit service to 10 p.m. was a powerful demonstration that the students’ requests had been heard and contributed to our desire to renew this partnership,” she wrote.

Transit ridership in Whitehorse has surpassed 520,000 bus trips in the past year, and Yukon College students are a big part of that trend, according to a City of Whitehorse news release.

A transit department quarterly report presented to the community services committee on Aug. 4 shows that transit numbers have been steadily growing in the city.

There were more than 52,000 rides on public transportation in April this year, compared to 42,815 during the same month last year.

In May, it was 50,074 compared to 42,815. In June, the number was 47,683 up from 39,464.

The City of Whitehorse and Yukon’s Department of Education have also reached a deal to provide high school students with transit passes.

More details will be released next week.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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