Kingston Transit offers opt-in semester passes for post-secondary students

Kingstonist file photo.

Post-secondary students have the option to purchase a Kingston Transit student pass for the fall semester, after the universal ridership agreement was cancelled earlier this summer.

Kingston Transit has collaborated with The Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University and The Student Association of St. Lawrence College to provide an option for students who will be on campus in Kingston this fall. The semester pass will be available for $119 and is valid from Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 to Sunday, Jan. 3, 2020.

“We are pleased to provide students with an affordable pass option for the coming semester,” said Jeremy DaCosta, Director of Transit Services for the City of Kingston. “Students account for about 40 per cent of our ridership and we want to ensure they continue to get where they are going by bus this fall.”

Kingston City Council received a report and recommendation from the CAO regarding this matter at their meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. The full report can be read here, and the recommendations were as follows:

That a By-law to Amend By-law Number 2005-10 “A By-law to Establish Fees and Charges to be Collected by The Corporation of the City of Kingston, as amended”, attached as Exhibit A to Report Number 20-179, be presented to Council for all three readings; and

That a reimbursement of fees be provided to the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University(AMS) in the amount of $495,286.98 and to the Student Association of St. Lawrence College (SA) in the amount of $355,893.12; and

That staff be directed to continue to work collaboratively with the AMS and SA and report back to Council no later than July 2021 prior to the 2021-2022 academic year regarding access to Kingston Transit for post-secondary students.

There was brief discussion of the matter amongst councillors before a vote was taken.

Councillor Simon Chapelle asked City Staff what the financial implications of this change would be and why the City would be reducing fees at this time. Staff responded the contract with both post-secondary institutions was not proceeding, as there is a termination clause in the contract, which the student associations at both schools chose to enact because having the Kingston Transit passes as part of students’ mandatory fees wouldn’t work with so many students not planning to return to Kingston. Staff predict some students will opt-in to the new plan, and that some will not. Staff also anticipate that the City will be at or below its transit budget for the year.

Councillor Peter Stroud voiced concern that, if this is not a mandatory student fee, students won’t choose to use public transportation.

“Will this remain an opt-in system or return to the former system in the future?” he asked of City Staff.

Staff indicated that there is a willingness from both Queen’s and St. Lawrence to return to the former plan, and that doing so will be discussed prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

With that, Council voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation, and therefore the new opt-in system.

Eligible students can purchase a pass beginning Monday, Aug. 24, 2020 on the City of Kingston’s website:

The previous agreement between the City, The Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University, and The Student Association of St. Lawrence College was terminated on Jun 1, 2020 due to the uncertain climate created by the COVID-19 pandemic. More details can be found in our coverage here: Kingston Transit terminates bus pass agreement with Queen’s, SLC.

“We value our continued partnership with the City and are eager to offer students safe and accessible transit through this temporary semester pass option,” said Alexandra Samoyloff, Vice President of Operations for the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University.

This was echoed by those with St. Lawrence.

“Our students make great use of Kingston Transit and will appreciate the flexibility for the coming semester,” said Elle McFeeters, President of the Student Association of St. Lawrence College.

More details about this pass will become available over the next few weeks. Keep up to date here:

With files from Tori Stafford.

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