Students planning to use the light rail next year might have to scrounge for extra change, as the price of an ASU student U-Pass is increasing from $80 to $150 per school year.
The U-Pass is a transportation pass that allows students to ride the Metro Light Rail and all Valley Metro bus routes.
For the past two years, students have been able to pay a flat rate of $80 a school year that gives them an unlimited number of rides from Aug. 16 to May 15. Students taking summer classes have had to pay an additional fee of $25.
The pass is the result of a deal between Parking and Transit Services made with Valley Metro in 2005 that allows students to pay a one-time fee, but PTS is required to pay a fee each time a student taps his or her card to ride.
Students were originally allowed to ride for free with a pass, but because of increases in light rail fares and the large amount of students using the light rail, PTS was forced to raise the rates.
Once again, PTS is finding itself short on funds, meaning that come fall, the price for students to purchase a U-Pass for the school year will be $150, almost double the current price.
The summer pass for 2011 will still be offered at $25, but it will double to $50 in summer 2012.
“What it comes down to is funds,” said Michael Hegarty, communications manager for Parking and Transit Services. “PTS receives no funding from the University, all of the revenue we generate comes from self funding.”
A 30 percent increase of ridership, totaling 14,000 students with passes, since last year has made the expenses too large to sustain the program at its current rate, Hegarty said.
He added that funding for PTS mostly comes from parking passes and tickets, and PTS is not making any money from the U-Pass program.
Although the price of the U-Pass is increasing by $70, it is still significantly cheaper than the Valley Metro’s Student Pass, which costs $390 for the whole school year. Both passes offer unlimited rides between August and May.
The U-Pass will work the same as it does now, with students being able to purchase the yearlong pass at the beginning of the fall semester, but students can get a $75 refund before Dec. 30 if they only plan to use it for the fall semester.
PTS will also offer a spring- semester-only pass for $75 starting at the beginning of the spring semester.
Psychology senior Lauren Hood said the rise in prices is not something she’s happy about, but she has no other choice but to pay it.
“I rely on [the light rail] heavily to get to school, so I will have to pay for it,” she said. “It sucks.”
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