The benefits of U-pass

The Board of Regents unanimously approved the U-Pass Thursday, allowing students and staff unlimited rides on city buses with the purchase of discounted bus passes. The program is nothing new; most Big Ten schools already use a similar bus plan and report positive results.
The article in The Minnesota Daily on Monday cited a few of the goals of the project, such as reducing carbon monoxide emissions and increasing transit use. Parking and Transportation Services expounded further, stating that the program will decrease traffic and parking problems for all students and staff.
In fact, the plan offers even more benefits than simply traffic relief to the University. The U-Pass will alleviate dependence on the Campus Connectors. Students who purchase the $50 pass can board any metro bus to cross the Washington Avenue Bridge. When students pour out of evening classes, the irregular timing of the Campus Connectors often leaves lines of people waiting for 30 to 45 minutes.
All students — whether they purchase the $50 semester-long pass or not — will pay a mandatory $5 fee. A federal grant will fund a portion of the program for the next two years. By the time the grant money runs out, parking officials believe the U-Pass will be self-sufficient. The mandatory fee may fluctuate slightly depending on the popularity of the program, but students should not expect more than a modest increase even after the federal grant disappears.