The Concordia Student Union (CSU) and seven other Montreal-based student associations are in the midst of requesting price reductions for all full-time students, regardless of their age, when it comes to Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) public transportation fares.
After joining forces with several student associations around Montreal, the CSU released a collective statement containing its goals.
“The CSU supports equal access to resources for all students. While we have been proud to partner with the STM in encouraging sustainable travel methods, we cannot support the inequality contained within its policy on student pricing. While a reduced rate for full-time students is important, limiting who may be considered full-time based on age does not reflect the reality of university life. Resources for students should be available to all students.”
According to the STM website, in order to obtain student privileges for a monthly pass on one’s Opus card, the individual must be a full-time student at an institution recognized by Quebec’s Ministere de l’Education, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS), and be 25 or less by October 31 of that year.
“We expect the STM to offer the same reduced fee to all full-time students, regardless of their age,” said CSU president Melissa Kate Wheeler. “So far we’ve been [promoting our demand] through social media and by speaking to the press, [but] we intend on increasing our support for this cause in the coming weeks through posters around the school, and by discussing it at our next council meeting.”
With bus and train passes getting more expensive each year, the significance of this demand is pertinent for the students in question.
STM fares have increased nearly $10 in the last five years. In 2008, a student discount monthly bus pass cost $36, whereas now it costs $45.50, an increase of 26.4 per cent. As for a regular bus pass, in 2008 it cost $66.25 and now is $77.75, an increase of 17.4 per cent. For those who take the train, the most expensive mode of transport, fares range between $69 to $121 for students, and regular fares between $87 and $151, depending on the zone.
The CSU’s current demands for reduced student fares are not their first attempt.
Back in February of 2010, the CSU made the same demand and created a petition which received 330 signatures online to allow students regardless of their age or enrollment status to be eligible to receive student fares.
The petition, which was directed at the City Council of Montreal, highlighted several areas concerning the STM student discount requirements and its unfairness to certain students, specifically to fares applying only to those aged 25 or less; not to part-time students but only full-time; STM being the only Canadian public transportation company to place an age restriction on which students qualify for the student discounts; that the average age of Concordia’s student population is 26; that those who continue their studies past the age of 25 often have greater debt; and that the city of Montreal has pledged its commitment to accessibility for both public transportation and higher education on several occasions.
Unfortunately, after approaching the STM with the petition in 2010, the CSU was unable to successfully negotiate an agreement. This time, however, the CSU hopes the STM will recognize the severity of the demand by publicizing more extensively in and around the school.
The Concordia Student Unions’ next council meeting will take place Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. where the situation will be discussed further.