University of Saskatchewan students can expect a full refund for their loss of U-Pass usage during the transit lockout.
“We committed to students that we’d be giving them this money back. I’m glad we were able to come through and do that. Hopefully it can help subdue a bit of the pain that was felt during the lockout, said U of S Students’ Union president Max FineDay. Though the refund will be doled out by the university itself, FineDay was involved in the process of making sure funds were returned to U-Pass holders.
On Sept. 20, the city issued a lockout notice to Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615, leaving Saskatoon commuters scrambling to find alternate means of transportation. Lasting exactly one month, the lockout came to be over ongoing financial disputes between the city and ATU 615.
Buses returned to service on Oct. 20, offering free service for the remainder of October.
Students returning to campus for the second half of the 2014–15 academic year will receive a $37.16 credit toward their term two U-Pass fees. Those not scheduled to return will be given the same figure in reimbursement so long as they have no outstanding balances held against them from the U of S.
If those not returning for a second term paid their student fees through cash, debit, cheque or via loans, the U of S will issue their U-Pass refund in the form of a cheque. The university is planning to have these cheques sent out for an arrival date sometime in February or March of 2015.
Those who paid by Mastercard will have the same figure transferred directly onto their credit card.
The amount chosen for the refund was based on the estimated amount lost in service for U-Pass holders over the course of the transit lockout.
“We’d calculated how much the U-Pass was worth and for every day that there wasn’t bus service, [and] we decided we were going to give that back to students,” said FineDay.
Referring to the lockout as “a severe disruption in the lives of many students,” FineDay was nonetheless proud of the work the university and the USSU did in trying to ease the stress many were facing.
“We heard so many horror stories of students having to walk ridiculous amounts — so much that our own university had to become a bus provider for I think the first time in its history,” FineDay said, referring to the free transit services the U of S offered to students, faculty and staff just prior to the lockout’s end. “I think it was a great success. Our university really stepped up to the plate when nobody else would. When we were failed by city council and by Saskatoon Transit, our university saw a need and provided that service.
“At a cost [university-provided transit was estimated at $10,000 per day], I think it was a great show of leadership by our administration by committing themselves to making sure that students have the opportunity to succeed.”
FineDay says that the reaction to the refund since its announcement has been wholly positive thus far.
“Students have been extremely happy that they’re getting their money back, and it’s sort of an ease on the financial burden that we know students are under.”