WOLFVILLE – Meg Hodges wants Acadia University students to vote 'yes' for a new university bus pass so all students can have better access to public transportation.
Hodges is a first-year politics student and also serves as a Kings County municipal councillor. As part of that, she represents council on the Kings Transit board.
She knows the UPass idea hasn’t worked before but says this proposal is different and offers students real reasons to vote in favour of it.
Hodges says the proposal offers longer service hours and a shuttle to and from Halifax that will give students an effective and accessible service to feel excited about.
“Some students put their lives on hold and others are in a hard place for four years when they come to Acadia. Anything we can do to support those having a harder time is really awesome,” she says.
Hodges presented the idea last year to the Acadia Students’ Union as a municipal councillor before enrolling as a student at the school. At that time, the proposal did not advance to the referendum stage.
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This year, Hodges says she was approached by a fellow student who remembered her presentation and was advised she could now start a petition on campus as a student.
And so she did. After publishing a column in the Athenaeum on the additional services a UPass yes would offer, Hodges says she collected signatures from 10 per cent of Acadia students in two days – all that’s required to present a petition to the ASU.
“The international students were really excited about it, and student-parents. And a lot of the young women seem excited – it’s a really interesting demographic of who supports it,” she says.
The proposed pass would cost $180 per year, per student, and would be included in academic fees. She also says the Halifax shuttle, which would leave Wolfville on Fridays and return from Halifax Sundays, is a go, but that specific logistics – departure times and the number of trips – are still being finalized.
And the extended hours, which would see the transit provider increasing the number of pick up and drop off times for buses, is contingent on the university voting ‘yes.’
While she doesn’t feel the idea has been a hard sell, Hodges says it is definitely a polarizing one.
“If you want it, you want it – if you don’t want it, you don’t want it. And that’s totally fair – I get it. But what social good am I doing by driving to school? If I could just park in Port Williams and take the bus, I’d do that,” she says.
Now that the petition has been passed on to the ASU, it will be scheduled as an agenda item and voted on by the council. If it is approved as a referendum item, Hodges says it will be put to the students for a vote in February.
She “hopes students vote yes for this if the referendum happens” because public transit is a “social good that levels the playing field” for students who otherwise struggle to afford getting to school.
“Many students are taking a big financial gamble by choosing to go to school. And this also helps others get to the hospital, co-op placements or volunteer – it’s a big benefit,” says Hodges.