MSA pushes for Universal Transit Passes

The Minnesota Student Association is working with the Metropolitan Council to provide students with Universal Transit Passes providing unlimited access to all transit systems.

The light rail as seen on Thursday, June 20 2019 in Minneapolis.

Image by Tony Saunders

The light rail as seen on Thursday, June 20 2019 in Minneapolis.

by Madison Roth

The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Student Association (MSA) is working towards granting UMN students Universal Transit Passes next semester, according to the MSA Infrastructure Committee. Universal Transit Pass would allow University students to ride the metro train and bus for free.

On Friday, MSA met with University administrators and the University’s Parking & Transportation Services to discuss the plan to move forward with Universal Transit Passes. Shashank Murali, co-chair of the MSA Infrastructure Committee, said it is up for the Board of Regents to decide.

According to the University’s Parking & Transportation Services, the cost for a U-Pass is $114 per semester. Although every student would be eligible to have new Universal Transit Passes, it would roughly add $45 per semester to every student’s service fees.

If approved by the Board of Regents, Universal Transit Passes would be given to students in the upcoming fall semester.

Murali said MSA has been pushing to make Universal Transit Passes available for years, and he is happy to see progress being made.

“U-Passes are great for campus; they give us access to all sorts of transportation,” Murali said. “We realized that there needed to be more accessible transportation on campus for students.”

According to Murali, the purpose of having free Universal Transit Passes would be to allow students to have access to transportation that grants equity, sustainability, safety and access to food.

“There’s so many inconsistencies with transportation, and it’s generally not accessible to all students,” Murali said. “The new U-Pass will solve a lot of our problems.”

Murali added that the Universal Transit Passes allow students to travel to get groceries, work outside the University and grant more overall access to the Twin Cities.

According to MSA’s spring survey results, a majority of students agreed they would use the Universal Transit Pass and that it would be beneficial to them.

Many University students agreed that better accessibility around campus would be nice, stating that they “wouldn’t mind paying the small fee for access to all types of transportation across campus and the cities,” Murali said.

First-year student Bettie Mande said she is excited about potentially having a Universal Transit Pass.

“I’ve always wanted to explore the city but felt like I had no way of getting around,” Mande said. “Now I [might] have a free, safer way of exploring the city I’m going to be living in for the next three years.”

Fourth-year student Tessa Lynch said she is looking forward to the opportunities that the Universal Transit Passes will have to offer students.

“It’s about time,” Lynch said. “I’m thrilled this is happening but very sad that it’s happening right as I’m graduating.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated whether the proposal was approved. The proposal has not been approved.