by: Enrique Ponce
So, how did we get here?
As students, we often go along our day, going from point A to B unassumingly, rarely thinking about how, why and what services we have on campus that we pay for. Here at Sheridan, one of the more popular services has been the inter-campus Shuttle Bus service, which was first introduced in 2013 as a split cost partnership between the Sheridan Student Union and Sheridan College. Since implemented, this free service has sky rocketed in ridership.
As some of you may know, we are now at a critical path of defining what the future of what student transit will look like here at Sheridan with our upcoming U-Pass Referendum. Before we dive into that, I wanted to share some history about how we got here.
Even before my time at the Sheridan Student Union, student transportation has always been a hot topic in our community and the notion of a U-Pass has been proposed by students, and Student Union Board/Executive members time and time again as a possible solution for some challenges students have been experiencing with their current transit options.
Wondering what a U-pass is in the first place?
Well, it’s a Universal Transit Pass that many post-secondary institutions have, like UTM, Fanshawe College, Mohawk College and many others. It typically allows full-time students access to a discounted bus pass with unlimited travel at a certain cost per semester.
Why has it taken so long to bring forward a U-Pass option to Sheridan?
The short answer is, it’s complicated. Some of the schools I mentioned above are simply dealing in one city with one transit authority. Sheridan, on the other hand, has three campus locations, which means working with transit authorities in three different cities. This could make it very difficult to pull together an agreement that works well for all parties. In 2011, Sheridan did come close with a proposal from all three parties but last ultimately, this option was not brought forward for students to vote on.
I am happy to say that in my capacity as President of the SSU this last year, we were able to start the conversation again – what began as some informal discussion with a local town councillor in Oakville, eventually led to more concrete discussion with Oakville Transit, putting the possibility of a U-Pass in motion.
That is really how we got to where we are now and why the U-pass referendum truly is a critical initiative in defining what student transit will look like for over 20,000 Sheridan students. This referendum simply looks to students to examine whether or not a U-Pass option (as outlined on our website) is the best option for their Sheridan experience.
The most important thing here is that students are informed about their transit options and get out there to vote! We need at least 15% of our student population to order for any option to move forward and we want to make sure your voice is heard!
- Enrique Ponce, Sheridan Student Union President