Students at Memorial University (MUN) have voted overwhelmingly against the proposed Metrobus program at a discount.
The universal transit pass (U-Pass) of the Memorial aimed to expand and improve Metrobus routes to the university. I would have added $ 139 per semester to fees for all full-time students enrolled on the St. John campus, the Center for Nursing Studies and the Marine Institute, unless they qualify for an opt-out option.
The results of the student vote were published on Thursday, and 71% of those who voted rejected the program. 56% of eligible voters voted, with 4,965 students voting against the program and 2,012 voting in favor.
The vote of the students was not binding and the final decision on whether the U-Pass will take place remains in the hands of the board of regents, at its March 14 meeting
The administration of Memorial University recommended that the board of regents did not proceed with a U-Pass program.
"Obviously, it's not a solution that they're interested in and we respect," said Jordan Wright, associate vice president (facilities) office manager.
Wright was involved in the U-Pass queries from the beginning.
He said the university was "very excited" by the level of student participation in the process. Many of the ideas presented by students about the type of public transportation system they would like to see will be brought to the city to help inform their ongoing public transit review, Wright said.
"We hope to pass on that information so you have an idea of what the university community is looking for in public transportation," he said.
Meanwhile, at least one student on campus said he was surprised by the result.
"It's like at the time of Donald Trump of MUN, or similar to the United Kingdom when the Brexit happened, you know, a lot of people expected it to win the yes side, and so it happened that the students rose up against the establishment, the administration and their voices sounded strong and clear ", Matthew Barter, critic of the proposal and third-year student of sociology and political science.
Barter said it was difficult to determine how the vote would take place because there were passionate and open voices on both sides.
St. John's counselor. Dave Lane, a member of the transport committee and U-Pass advocate, said he is disappointed with the result.
"I thought it was a great program that would have benefited all the students, but I definitely respect his voice and the vote," Lane said.
"It's unfortunate, but at the end of the day I think when they ask people to vote if they would like to pay more money when, in particular for students, they usually have little money, it's not like that. ".
Lane said the city had not based any future public transport plan on the success of the U-Pass, and noted that it continues to focus on increasing the number of passengers.
Lane said one of the challenges was that some students did not want to pay for Metrobus without seeing that the service had improved first, which he called an "egg and chicken problem."
"If we want to make significant improvements, we have to make a significant investment, but the Metrobus service is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers, making it very difficult to make more investments."
Lane said student fees would have helped improve public transportation service for routes of particular interest to students.
"Maybe in the future we can go back to him if MUN would like to continue with the idea."