Campus Life: 6 reasons why your bus pass should become your new best friend

By Raven Nyman

(monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images)

(monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images)

With the new school year already a few weeks underway, many students are beginning to feel comfortable with the layout of their new campus.

For fourth and fifth year students, that feat was accomplished years ago and has been succeeded by a follow-up challenge: get off of campus.

It may sound simple, but if you’ve spent time living in residence—aka dorms—you will begin to see how difficult it is to leave the safety of the campus bubble.

After all, campus has everything you need: food, friends, shelter, and fun. But a crucial part of your university experience should also include getting off campus.

What’s the easiest way to do that? With a swipe of your handy, dandy bus pass, of course.

You may or may not have become acquainted with your pass yet, but I suggest that you speed up introductions as you and your bus pass will be seeing a lot of each other over the next few years.

Most universities offer bus passes to their students at a discounted rate.

The University of British Columbia, for example, now uses the Compass Card.

All eligible students at UBC’s Vancouver campus have access to the program, which is assessed as part of student fees—that means payment for the pass is mandatory.

In most cases, this actually works out to be a great deal and students are eager to take advantage of it.

However, if a disability prevents you from comfortably using transit services, or, alternatively, if you do not live in Metro Vancouver, then a pass might not be right for you.

In that case, there are options to opt out of the fee.

If you have any concerns, check in with your university’s Student Services, as U-Pass fees and guidelines change per university.

UBC’s Compass Card provides students with unlimited access to transit services in Metro Vancouver such as the SeaBus, SkyTrain, Canada Line, and the bus, of course, at the simple tap of a card.

With so many options for mobility at your finger tips, you may be wondering where to begin.

No matter what you do, or where you go, here are 6 reasons why your bus pass should become your new best friend this September.

1. It’s your first year. If you’re a first year student, then further explanation is hardly necessary, especially if you’ve transferred from a new city, province, or country. You’ll have a lot of exploring to do, and a lot of learning, too. If you start university at a huge campus like UBC, you’ll be able to make use of your bus pass on the campus itself. Start small by exploring the various regions of your university, then spread out to check out the local hangouts.

2. You want to explore your city. There’s no better way to get acquainted with a new place than to hop on a bus, a SkyTrain, or a SeaBus and just go.

3. You want to save money. Exploring the city of Vancouver in particular can become a pretty expensive endeavour, depending on how you go about it. Thankfully, as university students, we’re comfortable living on a budget. Since most universities make the U-Pass a mandatory fee, you may find that having it offers you opportunities you would not have explored otherwise. Think of it this way: would you be able to hit up Stanley Park with your dorm-mates on a Sunday afternoon if you didn’t have a bus pass? Not everyone in their first year, or even fifth year, can answer “yes” to that question. Many students do not have a personal vehicle or even a driver’s license, especially since thousands of students travel internationally to study at the university of their choice.Bringing a vehicle along can be difficult, and insurance rates for young people in British Columbia are quite expensive. All things considered, the bus pass is a great way for students to explore their new city on a budget.

4. You want to be environmentally conscious. Even if you do have your own vehicle, you might choose to make an environmentally conscious decision to leave that vehicle at home for the year while you attend school. Ask yourself, do you really need the convenience of a personal vehicle while studying? The answer will be different for each person, depending on their needs, living situation, and more. It could change year to year, as it has with me. Still, it’s worth a thought.

5. You want to avoid all those parking fees. This is another valid reason not to bring your own vehicle to university. I’ve had years where I use my vehicle frequently, and years where it sits parked for weeks at a time. For the most part, I keep my vehicle parked during school, and choose to take transit. Taking the bus is a safe way to avoid parking fees and save money on gas, too. Riding—or waiting for—the bus can in some ways feel like a student’s rite of passage, so you should give it a shot during at least one of your school years.

6. You want to visit family and friends. If you are lucky enough to have family and friends already living in the lower mainland, then you will likely be able to use your U-Pass to visit them, regardless of which college of university you attend in Vancouver. It may take a few bus transfers, but if you can squeeze in a family visit without having to take time off school or book expensive flights, that sounds like a win to me.

EDITOR's note: Campus Life previously reported that B.C. university students are eligible to apply for a Federal Tax Credit, however, this Tax Credit was removed from the Federal budget in 2017. 24 Hours Vancouver apologizes for the error.