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  • Report looks at captured nature of BC’s Oil and Gas Commission August 6, 2019
    From an early stage, BC’s Oil and Gas Commission bore the hallmarks of a captured regulator. The very industry that the Commission was formed to regulate had a significant hand in its creation and, too often, the interests of the industry it regulates take precedence over the public interest. This report looks at the evolution […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Correcting the Record July 26, 2019
    Earlier this week Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun. The opinion piece makes several false claims and connections regarding the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), which we would like to correct. The […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Rental Wage in Canada July 18, 2019
    Our new report maps rental affordability in neighbourhoods across Canada by calculating the “rental wage,” which is the hourly wage needed to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30% of one’s earnings.  Across all of Canada, the average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $22.40/h, or $20.20/h for an average one […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada July 9, 2019
    CCPA senior economist David Macdonald co-authored a new report, Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada­—released by Upstream Institute in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—tracks child poverty rates using Census 2006, the 2011 National Household Survey and Census 2016. The report is available for […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Fossil-Power Top 50 launched July 3, 2019
    What do Suncor, Encana, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Fraser Institute and 46 other companies and organizations have in common? They are among the entities that make up the most influential fossil fuel industry players in Canada. Today, the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) is drawing attention to these powerful corporations and organizations with the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Universal Student Transit Pass

I have an opinion piece out on the City of Ottawa’s universal, student transit pass–also known as “the U-Pass.” Points raised in the op-ed include the following:

-U-Pass programs exist for roughly 30 universities and colleges across Canada.

-For a U-Pass program to be introduced, students typically must vote in favour of the program in student referenda.

-When there is a positive referendum outcome, the university in question–either its senior administraion, its student unions or both–enters into a partnership with the local transit authority.  Full-time students are then automatically enrolled in the program, and payment for the U-Pass is automatically charged to their individual student accounts when they register for fall term.

-A U-Pass will typically give a student complete access to public transit in the municipality in question, all through the academic year.  Yet, the cost of the U-Pass to students is considerably less than what they would normally pay for transit.  For example, the City of Ottawa’s U-Pass currently costs eligible students just under $40 per month.

-One of the reasons it is offered at such a low rate to students is that it is expected that some students will use their U-Pass only sparingly; some, for example, will continue to use a car as their primary means of transportation.  In effect, there is an element of the polluting students subsidizing the non-polluting students.  In this sense, the U-Pass contributes to a ‘green shift’ of sorts. (That said, over time, the U-Pass will also encourage many car drivers to become transit users, and that’s fundamental to the program’s success.)

-The municipality benefits in several ways.  First, far more students take transit when such a system is in place, and this reduces the cost of road repair, helps curb traffic congestion, and reduces pollution.  Second–and this is key–it encourages young people to get in the habit of taking transit instead of cars; this, in turn, offers an important long-term payoff to municipalities after these people graduate.  In other words, it brings about a ‘culture of ridership.’

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