Yearly transit passes / by Greg Gallinger

Amy Groening, writing at The Uniter:

The Universal Transit Pass, or U-Pass, would provide eligible students with unlimited access to Winnipeg Transit services during the fall and winter semesters, in exchange for a tuition fee increase of an estimated $150 to $200 for the year.

Why just eligible students, I'm a wage worker and a tax paying resident, why can't I buy a yearly transit pass?

I hate buying transit passes. I usually buy monthly passes, but often forget to get a new pass on the first of the month. A yearly pass would be ideal.

The proposed cost of a "U-Pass" mentioned in the article is $150 - $200, that seems pretty low considering monthly passes for students currently cost $61.60.

Because I'm pretty awful at math I've always assumed buying a monthly pass (at full rate because I'm not a student) was the most economical option. After reading the above article I decided to investigate the fares a little bit more to determine the approximate yearly cost.

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I was surprised to learn that tickets are the cheapest way to ride, they are also my least favourite to use. Despite this knowledge I'm unlikely to start buying up rolls up tickets like I'm swooping in on the silent auction at a Saturday night social. I'll stick with passes.

But why the discrepancy in price in the first place?

Does Winnipeg Transit keep the cash price lower than passes because they count on the fact that most nobody has a Toonie, a Quarter, and two Dimes and will reluctantly drop $2.50 down the hole because it's more convenient? I know I do (unless I'm short, in which case I'll dump whatever configuration of change I can pass off as the right amount.

With a yearly pass I'd never have to worry about buying a new pass on the first, and I'd never have to fish for change after I forgot to buy a pass and I'm almost late for work.

My experiment in arithmetic also taught me that if Winnipeg Transit allows the U-Pass they will be losing over $500 per student (assuming each student would have purchased a bus pass). This information reinforces my skepticism of the proposed "U-Pass" price.

Given Winnipeg Transit's current pricing scheme it seems more likely that a yearly pass would run the average citizen somewhere in the $900 - $1,000 range and students falling somewhere between $700 - $800.


I'm glad to see you're all better at math than me as many of you have pointed out I forgot to account for round trips when paying cash. If you're a student or worker transfers won't do you much good for round trips most of the time. Below is a slightly adjusted table of fares that include round trips.

I also forgot to account for the tax rebate that passes qualify for, but I won't bother doing that math.

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So tickets and cash are NOT cheaper if your trips are to and from work/school because transfers would have expired.

That being said, cash can sometimes work out to be a better deal if you don't ride the bus everyday and are able catch the occasional ride home.