U-Pass increases bus use by 53 per cent, decreases traffic to and from UBC

The Universal Transportation Pass — or U-Pass — is a hit
at UBC.

Since the pass went into effect for UBC students in early
September, TransLink ridership to and from the Point Grey
campus has increased by 53 per cent compared to Fall 2002.
Currently 45,300 daily passengers make the commute using TransLink
buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus services — up from 29,700 per
day last year.

“This is a great boost for our community,” says
Gord Lovegrove, UBC’s director of Transportation Planning.
“We initially forecast a 35 per cent increase in ridership
— this 53 per cent far surpasses our expectations and is
helping us achieve our sustainability goals.”

The inexpensive U-Pass has provided students with a convenient
alternative to driving and paying for parking. Single occupant
vehicle (SOV) traffic use has been reduced by 20 per cent.
The increased ridership and reduction in SOV trips helps address
sustainable growth commitments set out in the UBC Official
Community Plan approved by the GVRD in 1997. To accommodate
the large increase in buses following the successful introduction
of the U-Pass, a below-ground transit station is planned for
the University Boulevard Neighbourhood.

To handle growth in ridership, TransLink has also improved
service to campus by more than 40 per cent in the past five
years, increasing the number of service hours to UBC by more
than 23,000 this September alone. TransLink is working with
UBC to make additional service improvements in response to
the popularity of the student U-Pass.

In the highest voter turnout in the history of UBC, students
earlier this year voted overwhelmingly in favour of U-Pass.
The pass costs $20 per month and is mandatory for all students.
With regular one-zone fare cards costing $63 per month, the
$20 U-Pass constitutes considerable savings.

Pass holders are entitled to unlimited use of TransLink
buses, SkyTrain and SeaBus services within the GVRD from September
through April. U-Pass holders also have access privileges
to campus shuttles, bicycle and carpool programs, discounts
with participating merchants like Mountain Equipment Co-op
and a guaranteed ride home in an emergency.

Lovegrove has several studies underway in partnership with
TransLink, and hopes to see an expansion of the U-Pass program
to summer students as well as staff, faculty and their families
in the future.

First discussed in 1996, the student U-Pass represents the
culmination of years of effort by the Alma Mater Society (AMS),
the university and TransLink to reduce access barriers and
improve transportation choices for UBC students.

For more information on the U-Pass program, visit www.trek.ubc.ca.