Transportation Demand Management (TDM) works to reduce the demands on our transportation infrastructure and the costs associated with building, maintaining and replacing that infrastructure. It is the equivalent of water and energy conservation and efficiency. It is a less expensive approach.
Our Bicycle-Friendly Guelph initiative is a TDM program and we have three transit-related Transportation Demand Management programs.
The first thing you need to know to understand the U-Pass is that every University of Guelph student (undergraduate and graduate) pays for a U-Pass every semester they are enrolled as a full-time student whether or not they use Guelph Transit and regardless of how often they use it.
The U-Pass helps support a level of service in the City that all riders benefit from.
The cost of the U-Pass was recently renegotiated to $84 this semester (and $86 in the spring and fall 2011 semesters.) This price went to referendum on campus and an overwhelming number of students supported it.
What this says to me is that young people in our community place a high value on transit service. Perhaps they see it as important to their future.
City Staff transit pass:
On average 24 passes are purchased monthly by City staff at the discounted rate of 50%. This program was initially implemented to encourage employees to use transit to get to work at the various facilities around the City. There is a second program for employees at City Hall – in exchange for giving up their parking pass at City Hall, an employee receives an annual sticker that allows them to travel free on Guelph Transit.
There is another aspect to this program. Airlines offer free travel to their employees. Retail stores offer discounts to their staff. Even local video stores offer free DVD rentals to their staff. Owners and shareholders of these businesses understand this is good for staff morale which is good for customer service which is good for business. One person suggested to me that perhaps it should not have been offered during the recession. Perhaps, but we need to remember that all City employees (except ambulance, fire and police) took a 5 day work reduction last year which was far more significant than the loss of 24 passes.
However, as a TDM program, I think it is fair to question its merits.
UofG/ Co-operators transit pass pilot:
At the present time, 175 passes are purchased monthly in the U of G/Co-operators discounted pass program. Employees can purchase a monthly pass at a 15% discount ($61.20). The parameters of the current program including eligibility criteria will be assessed as part of the implementation of the Transit Growth Strategy and it is envisioned that a new program will be unveiled later this year. The idea is to make such a program more widely available but first we need to ensure it makes sense.
One last item on bus passes - in 2006, the Council of the day included a free transit pass as part of the compensation package for members of City Council.