You need the U-Pass!
Take away my U-Pass and you take my mobility, livelihood and access to the St. Louis community. Through the U-Pass program the University pays a discounted rate to Metro for transit passes and distributes them to students, faculty and staff at no additional cost. While some criticize this opportunity as abusing Metro, which is in the midst of a critical funding crunch, the program provides far more benefits than harm.
First, in terms of money, though the University pays Metro less than the $145 per pass than other students in the region pay for their passes, the administration pays based on how many people are on campus, not how many actually request them. Therefore, Metro receives payment for the one-quarter to one-third of those eligible for U-Passes who do not request their passes. Moreover, Metro now receives more money from the University community than before the U-Pass program, because drastically fewer Washington University community members used transit before the program began.
Though some feel that the University would evade paying the proposed sales tax to fund transit in St. Louis County, while the administration doesn’t, the individual members of the community will be paying this tax.
Money aside, the U-Pass program is important to the city and is certainly not a new idea. The University of Missouri-St. Louis was the first St. Louis school to offer a U-Pass program, though they do charge students a fee for the passes. Southwestern Illinois College also used to participate in the program. In Pittsburgh, several large universities have a similar arrangement with the local transit agency Port Authority. Students ride free on public buses and are able to access local attractions and cultural institutions and bring capital and foot traffic to neighborhoods across the city.
By maintaining the U-Pass program at Washington University, we keep students, faculty and staff connected to city attractions, jobs, their homes and other universities. This connectedness keeps the region alive, and will continue to bring bright minds to the University and throughout the city.
Louis is a freshman in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.