U-Pass for All for a Dollar a Day
COPE's plan for creating affordable public transit is to work to extend the universal transit pass program to all residents of Vancouver for “a dollar a day.” That's a transit pass for just $30 a month. The universal (U-Pass) program has been a success at colleges and universities by increasing ridership and reducing fares, congestion, and carbon emissions.
COPE will put a Vancouver U-Pass, in everyone’s hand.
The U-Pass will make transit more affordable
Transit fares must be reduced to achieve a Vancouver everyone can afford. A dollar-a-day Vancouver transit pass would save each transit rider $1,680 per year.
A three zone transit pass now costs $170/month. Transit fares have been increasing almost every year. Most university students in the city pay only about $35/month.
The U-Pass will increase transit ridership
Putting a transit pass in each person’s hand helps them switch from cars to transit.
When the U-Pass program was introduced at UBC, ridership increased 53% in the first year alone. When a Community Pass was introduced for non-students at UBC, ridership grew 65%. In Boulder Colorado, where the Community Pass model was spearheaded, ridership increased 50%.
The U-Pass will reduce carbon emissions
Cars are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Vancouver. Affordable and accessible public transit is key to reducing the city's emissions.
TransLink estimates that switching from car to transit will reduce a person’s CO2 emissions over four-fold, from 224 grams of greenhouse gases per km travelled to only 50 grams. Vision Vancouver is seeking to reduce automobile usage in Vancouver from 55% to 50% by 2020. That’s not good enough. We’ll never become a truly “green” city at that rate.
The U-Pass program will be cost-neutral
Like the U-Pass program at colleges and universities, the Vancouver U-pass program is cost-neutral.
TransLink currently collects about $150 million in fares from Vancouver residents. If each working-age Vancouverite paid for a $30/month pass, it would generate $160 million for the transit system annually. Those with a monthly pass can qualify for federal tax credits/rebates.
There is also the option of creating a fund to pay for those who opt-out. That subsidy will be funded by rolling back Vision’s tax breaks on large corporations.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much will this cost the city?
The U-pass program is mostly cost-neutral, we just need to create a fund to pay for those who opt-out. That subsidy will be funded by rolling back Vision’s tax breaks on large corporations (not small and medium-sized businesses).
How much does TransLink collect in fares from Vancouver residents?
About $150 million per year. TransLink’s 2012 budget of $463 million in fare collection across Metro Vancouver, and TransLink estimates 30% of ridership is within the City of Vancouver.
If each working-age Vancouverite paid for a $30/month pass, how much revenue would that generate for the transit system?
Over $160 million per year. According to the 2011 census, there were 450,000 (75%) working age people living in the City of Vancouver.
Are there opt-outs, exemptions, and subsidies?
U-pass programs include opt-out and exemption provisions. For example, if you already have a universal pass, you can opt-out. If you suffer economic hardship, the cost of your pass could be waived. In both cases, this lost revenue would have to be covered by a subsidy. For purposes of comparison, UBC puts aside about $1/year per student for subsidies. Even if Vancouver put aside $10/year per resident to subsidize opt-outs and fee waivers, the cost would be only $5 million/year.