U-Passes no longer free, students must pay $40

Madeline Scharf Reporter

In an agenda released by the Board of Regents on March 25, it was announced the U-Pass fee would increase to $40 for all participating CSCU colleges and universities.  

Previously, students did not have to purchase the pass unless they lost it, to which they would pay a $10 fee for replacement. Art Education major Sara Lareau, freshman, said, “I haven’t had to pay for it yet.” 

Lisa Rivers, a Transit Manager for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said Rivers. “We wanted a program to encourage use of public transportation,” said Rivers. “We want to expose students to our services.” 

The U-Pass was first tested at UCONN in 2017 and seemed to be a very positive program for the students. “Some students didn’t have enough money before,” said Rivers. For the students could not pay for transportation to and from school, the program allows them to be more mobile and access more of Connecticut.  

The U-Pass program was a huge success. “We had so much good feedback,” said Rivers. “It was also a positive that the public transportation allowed the CSCU students to begin traveling safely.” 

The program is currently offered to all CSCU universities, “except for Quinnipiac and Eastern,” according to Rivers. “The students able to use the program are “usually undergrad,” said Rivers, “but the program is now considering possibly adding graduate students as well.” 

Students in Southern have used the pass. Communication major Leo Palumberi  has used it in the past. “Yeah, I enjoy the U-Pass,” said Palumberi. “It is free transportation, so I very much enjoy that.”  

Palumberi was not aware that the U-Pass fee would be increasing to $40 a semester. “That is horrendous,” said Palumberi. “I am better off just paying bus fare once or twice. That… why are they doing that, it ruins the point of the U-Pass?”  

Lareau was also unaware of this change. “That is… that is fairly upsetting,” said Lareau. She said she will now reconsider purchasing the pass next semester. 

The pass may not be worth it for some students. Palumberi hypothesized who this pass may be aimed towards. “I suppose the pass may be viable for people who take the train,” said Palumberi.  

The average one-way train ticket from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs most commuter trains in Connecticut, costs anywhere from $15- $25.  

“I suppose,” said Palumberi. “If I were traveling a lot by train, I may buy the U-Pass.” However, he does not use the train often enough, as he has other means of transportation. “Yeah, I will never use it enough to warrant $40,” said Palumberi.  

An anonymous student who uses the U-Pass for bus transit of the $40 fee. “It is very bad,” said the student. “I will not be buying the pass because, you know, its $40.”  

Lisa Rivers did not appear to know anything about the price increase for the U-Pass. She said, “If it is going to $40, then it is because of a negotiated rate to offset other services provided.”  

The agenda released by the Board of Regents writes on page 184, “As a result of negotiations with the State DOT (Department of Transportation) and OPM (Connecticut Office of Policy and Management), and in accordance with proposed legislation, the cost of each UPASS will rise to $40 per term for all public colleges and universities.”  

This change is applicable for all universities under CSCU who are part of the U-Pass program.  

The Board of Regents did not respond to request to speak on the matter.  

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