By Chris Avery

All 10 major institutions in Edmonton and the surrounding area have decided to suspend their participation in the U-PASS program for the fall semester. The City of Edmonton presents several reasons, with the main being that most classes are now offered online.

The city of Edmonton also cites financial challenges if they were to continue offering the pre-existing U-PASS as the primary means for students to access the Edmonton Transit Service (ETS).

As a replacement program, students in Edmonton and the surrounding area now qualify for reduced rates and fares.

“From September 1-December 31, ALL post-secondary students, no matter their age, at U-Pass institutions and institutions that were eligible for the Post-Secondary pass can use youth fare products,” says the City’s website.

As of Sep 1, a youth monthly pass will cost about $70, which is 25 per cent lower than the adult rate. Alternatively, students can purchase ten tickets for a discounted rate.

Through this new program, students are given an opportunity to benefit from reduced fares and rates while attending one of the major institutions across the city. The city also extended the age of eligibility for youth fares to 24 years old, well beyond the initial 17 years old criteria.

Additionally, the City of Edmonton’s Ride Transit program is also available to students. The program has been officially extended to include international students as well. With both youth passes and ride transit being offered to post-secondary students, the void left by U-Pass’ momentary departure is being filled – for now.

It is important to note that the extension of Youth Fares to students of all ages is temporary. The city has not commented on a path forward as everyone’s future becomes increasingly uncertain. New measures could be announced for the 2021 winter semester, as all current measures are only in place for the up-coming fall semester.

With the new LRT line finishing within the next few years, and its extension west also in the works for Edmonton, transit-life for students remains up in the air.