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CTPF Against the UPass

May 26, 2009

I just heard a short statement on the CBC this morning that the Canadian Tax Payers Federation(CTPF) is against the subsidized transit passes sold to highschool and university students.  Their reasoning is that some kids have been found to be selling their bus passes on Craigslist.  The CTPF describes this as perfectly rational behaviour, to be expected, and call for the ending of this unfair subsidization.  You see, for the program to work the government pitches in some money and the bus company requires that all students buy the pass at the discounted price.  So even if some students use it more than other or some students don’t use the pass at all there is still enough money coming in to pay for everyone.  In case the CTPF isn’t familiar with the concept, its called a social contract.  Everyone is forced to pay in order for the cost to be lower for everyone.  It works in lots of systems where almost everyone receives the benefits of the system and the cost isn’t extraordinarily high, just like paying taxes.  Of course, I guess that is what the CTPF is against in princple.  Frankly, I don’t know why they get to spout their views, uncontested on a news story as if they are some kind of vangaurd of representation for the people of Canada.

Who is the Canadian Tax Payers Federation?  I’m a Canadian Tax Payer, I’ve never received a membership letter from them or helped to select their members.  They should be honest and call themselves the Canadian Anti-tax Federation.  Lots of people would still support them but at least then it wouldn’t lend undue legitimacy by sounding like that a union that all Canadians pay dues into.

Oh, I but I guess they’d be against union dues too, woulnd’t they?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Matthew Naylor permalink
    May 27, 2009 8:00 am

    Gaah! As someone who spent a year running the UPass program, I want to correct a couple of misconceptions about the contract. One – the UPass is NOT government subsidized. It is based on the ridership at the initial point of negotiation distributed equally across the students at the institution. That’s why UBC students pay less than do people at SFU or Langara.

    Second, this isn’t a government program, it’s a contract, one that was ratified by a student referendum by 97%. There is a company and a society who enter into an agreement to provide, from one end, ridership (a stated goal of translinks), and from the other, increased service.

    Third, this has other effects on how people commute. People who use their UPasses (about 86% of the student population) don’t pay the carbon tax when filling up the cars they don’t have. They also get a tax credit for this, but one that they would get anyway if they were using transit.

    The CTPF should do it’s homework. If they are really about getting the best value for a tax dollar, UPass programs are exemplary. If they just hate government, they should celebrate it too, because this was the result of two corporate entities entering into a partnership.

    • May 27, 2009 4:56 pm

      Awesome, thanks for the info Matt, university UPasses are totally off the books for comment from them then since it doesn’t involve taxes at all. I’m not sure if it works the same for the highschool program which seems to be what they were talking about, I will have to look into it. Regardless, as you point out, there are lots of good reasons to support subsidized transit passes.

  2. May 27, 2009 8:47 pm

    I was lucky to have the Upass program be implemented since I began at Simon Fraser University in 2003. I’ll never forget when the Upass program began after a student referendum vote, the referendum passed by only 33 votes.

    Then in the November 2007 U-Pass referendum, students voted 92% in favour of a small fee increase to sustain the U-Pass program until at least September 2011. Transit ridership to Burnaby Campus has increased 39% since the launch of the U-Pass program in 2003.

    I traveled Europe last year and even when I convert the transit rates to Canadian dollars, we have the most expensive transit rates for a system that is not as extensive. Budapest (Hungary) has a more extensive subway system than our skytrain.

    The Upass program should spread, not be scrapped.

  3. February 12, 2012 2:12 pm

    The world badly needs exemplary human beings and musicians like the departed Pepper, Cherry, and Walcott.

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