Kingston Transit terminates bus pass agreement with Queen’s, SLC

Kingstonist file photo.

Editorial note: The original headline of this article stated that Kingston Tranist is terminating it’s contracts with Queen’s and SLC for “free bus passes.” In fact, those bus passes are covered by a student fee of $93 annually, so therefore not free. We have updated this article to reflect that.

Kingston Transit announced today the termination of its contracts with Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College (SLC), which provide bus passes for their students. The cancellation takes effect Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. 

“The decision to terminate the agreements was a joint decision between the City, and Queen’s University and St.Lawrence College students,”  said Jeremy DaCosta, Director of Transit Services for the City of Kingston in a memo to all Kingston Transit staff.

Under the terms of the agreement, each student pays a mandatory student fee that is transferred to the City each year, DaCosta said in the memo, and that the “terms and conditions of the bus pass agreements never contemplated a Covid-19 type situation.”

Students will not be charged this fee, according to Patrice Oliveira, Director of Communications for the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s Unviersity. “As services are extremely altered, neither Kingston Transit, nor the AMS feel that the services will meet the needs of post-secondary students, she said. “Students will save the $93 fee, that was before deemed mandatory as a result of this.”

St. Lawrence College students’ fees of $164/annually will also be waived for the 2020-2021 school year.

Both post-secondary institutions have decisions to move the majority of classes online in the fall, which DaCosta said is expected to reduce cause a significant decrease to “ridership and revenue” for Kingston Transit.

According to the memo, post-secondary students account for up to 40 per cent of Kingston Transit’s annual ridership, and the contract agreements are worth about $2.8 million annually. 

DaCosta said it is “very likely” that service levels and routes will be affected, specifically Route 17 (late night shuttle), 18, 18Q, 20, and that various student cover buses will not operate in September.

“It is also likely that our return to full service on other routes will not occur as quickly without Queen’s and St. Lawrence College student ridership,” he said. 

A copy of the memo circulated to all Kingston Transit staff on Monday, Jun. 1, 2020 regarding the termination of agreements with local post-secondary institutions.

DaCosta said he is continuing to work closely with Queens and St. Lawrence College to find “other solutions” for September to ensure as many students as possible can access Kingston Transit. 

“I will share more information about the impact this will have on our transit service levels as soon as possible,” he said. 

Kingston high school students not affected

According to Erin Couch, communications officer for the City of Kingston, the Kingston Transit High School Student Transit Pass remains in place until further notice.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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