New Ed Passes available

Starting in September, the price of a Utah Transit Authority Education Pass will be $20. The Ed Pass was free to Weber State University students before this time, but a new contract between WSU and UTA added the price tag.

The UTA Ed Pass can be used to ride the buses, TRAX and FrontRunner. Using this pass, students can travel for free as long as they are studying at WSU.

The old Ed Passes will work up until September, giving students time to purchase the new pass. Once the grace period has ended, students who try to use the old passes will either be fined for not having a valid fare or will be asked to pay in another form. The old passes will be deactivated and will no longer work.

“Our choices were to fill the budgetary hole in our UTA program with a point of service fee, or a card fee, or walk away from the Ed Pass program altogether,” said Norm Tarbox, vice president of administrative services at WSU. “We heard a lot from students back when we were making that decision, and what we heard almost unanimously was ‘don’t walk from the program.’”

The contract WSU and UTA created will last for three years. After the three years is over, representatives will meet again to discuss and create a new one.

For now, UTA has a cap on how much WSU has to pay it. Once WSU reaches a certain amount of money, it no longer has to pay UTA. WSU is charged based on the amount of service students use during a school year. This year, the cap is $471,900, which Gerry Carpenter, the UTA spokesperson, said he thinks WSU will reach quickly during the upcoming school year. For the 2011-12 school year, WSU reached its cap in January.

The responsibility for switching the old cards to the new ones lands on both WSU and UTA. WSU will send a list of cards that must be activated or deactivated to UTA. UTA will then import all of the information into its system.

“It’s a small price to pay,” said WSU student Connor Kubricky about the increase. Kubricky rides the FrontRunner to WSU and Salt Lake City. He said he likes riding the FrontRunner because of the free Wi-Fi.

“I’m supporting UTA, letting people know it’s something people rely on,” Kubricky said. He also said he would continue buying an Ed Pass as long as the price is cheaper than buying gas.

“The student pass is an incredible value,” Carpenter said. “The equivalent full premium pass is about $2,200.”

At this time, UTA does not have any plans to change anything else, such as the bus routes that coincide with WSU.