Many students will remember how expensive transportation in the city can be after their spring U-Passes expire on May 16, while part-time students see it as just another day on which they pay $2 or more to the Chicago Transit Authority.
U-Passes will not be distributed for summer classes, even for those who may be registered full time. In fact, Columbia has never provided summer train passes.
The Chronicle reported in December 2008 that Student Life, after receiving several complaints, conducted a survey to ask previous full-time summer students if they would like to pay the extra fee for an unlimited train pass.
According to Columbia’s Web site, students did not meet the criteria for the program. The Web site stated, “Based on demographic and polling data, previous summer classes did not meet the residential, demographic and enrollment requirements to make a Summer U-Pass Program a success for all students involved.”
It has become increasingly more important for students to receive discounts wherever possible due to the lack of employment among young adults. There are only a few groups that do get an exclusive discount, including high school students, young children ages 7 to 11, people with disabilities and seniors who ride trains and buses for free.
All college students should be included in this discount system because the U-Pass program isn’t offered to all schools yearround or to part-time students, who are always forced to pay a full fare.
More needs to be done to lessen the burden of transportation costs for students, whether it’s through schools becoming more accommodating and offering transportation vouchers or the CTA broadening its discount scope.
Columbia should re-evaluate full-time summer students to see if the need for U-Passes has changed. Because some Columbia jobs require employees to use transportation, the college could also offer vouchers to student employees to lessen the cost of the CTA.
This is also true for part-time students who are required to take the train or bus during frequent field trips for classes.
Although the college and CTA make less money while offering incentives for young people, there is a great need for less expensive transportation to better accommodate for a demographic who may be struggling to pay for college, living arrangements and other fixed expenses. Any opportunity for college students to receive a discount should be thoroughly considered by schools and city programs.