Globe’s Point: Point Park Should Adopt A U-Pass Partnership With Port Authority

Recently, the University of Pittsburgh renewed their contract with the Port Authority of Allegheny County to continue offering a no-cost U-Pass to their students. This means that all University of Pittsburgh students are able to use the T and Port Authority buses for no charge, as they are already pre-paid for with student tuition.

Point Park University has previously held formal discussions with Port Authority to seek out a similar no-cost U-Pass deal for students, though no agreement was ever met. It is time for the university to, at the very least, renew these discussions.

One major benefit is that students would be able to traverse Pittsburgh much more affordably. One of Point Park’s main selling points (sorry, that was unintentional) is that they are located in Downtown Pittsburgh, and while downtown is wonderful, a lot of the best parts of Pittsburgh are inaccessible to Point Park students without steady transportation.

Students being able to explore the city isn’t the only major thing that having U-Pass would benefit. For example, commuter students, who make up a large number of the student body,would be able to get to and from campus much easier. Another example: students who work jobs and internships around town would be able to get to work without much hassle.

Point Park is one of the most food-insecure higher education institutions in the city; in 2019, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank reported that 38% of over 300 surveyed Point Park students were dealing with food insecurity, and that was before food scarcity problems with the coronavirus pandemic even started. Without a major grocery store located downtown and inconsistent Culinart dining hours, many students have a difficult time finding enough food for themselves. Instituting a no-cost U-Pass would give all students the ability to properly access a grocery store on their own schedule, something that would be massively beneficial to the student body.

The main argument against U-Pass is the cost. Admittedly, it would raise tuition, and more importantly it would raise tuition an amount that would be completely unknown until after it was implemented. However, all of the students who currently use public transportation (no doubt a large portion of the student body) are currently paying to use public transportation, so many people wouldn’t actually see a change of cost, and some students would likely end up saving money in the long run.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority has already indicated that, now that they have finalized their agreement with the University of Pittsburgh, they are planning on approaching other higher education institutions in the area and indicated that Point Park would be one of them. We’d like to urge university administration and the student government that when the Port Authority comes for discussions, be willing to institute a no-cost U-Pass option.