U-Pass price to increase to $150 for 2011-12

ASU Parking and Transit Services announced Tuesday that the price of Valley Metro Student U-Passes will rise to $150 for the 2011-2012 academic year. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

ASU Parking and Transit Services announced Tuesday that the price of Valley Metro Student U-Passes will rise to $150 for the 2011-12 academic year.

The U-Pass, which allows unlimited access to Metro Light Rail and other forms of public transportation in the Valley, cost students $80 during the last two academic years.

“While the price is going up, it is still a great deal for students if you were to compare it to some of the other transit fares,” said Hillary Foose, the public information officer at Valley Metro. “Adults pay $55 for a monthly pass (and) there’s other college-based pass programs, which run for about $200 for a semester.”

The price of the U-Pass was raised in order for the program to remain sustainable and maintain its “unlimited” benefits, said Michael Hegarty, a spokesman for Parking and Transit Services.

“The fact is, we had to increase the rate so we could maintain the program as it is,” Hegarty said. “Every time a student taps that card to get a ride, we get charged from Valley Metro, so our expenses are much more.”

The U-Pass provides unlimited rides on the light rail, Local, Express, RAPID and LINK bus routes. The $150 U-Pass will cover rides from Aug. 16 to May 15, 2012, and will be available for purchase on Aug. 1.

Despite the increase, students receive a 60 percent discount through the U-Pass when compared with other Phoenix-college students who are paying for access to Metro’s transit system, according to a press release by ASU.

Hegarty said PTS does not expect a significant decline in student riders due to the U-Pass price increase. However, some students may choose not purchase another U-Pass because of the price increase.

“There’s some students who only use the U-Pass occasionally and might not see much value at $150,” said Hegarty. “But if you ride Metro regularly, it’s more likely that with rising gas prices this is still a good deal.”

Journalism sophomore Kim Pestalozzi said she uses the light rail because of its cheap rate, but said she may not buy a pass next year because of the price increase.

“The perk of buying the light-rail pass was the cheap rate,” Pestalozzi said. “The light rail is not more convenient than driving, but being a college student, I try to make the most of my money.”

Contact the reporter at taylor.maguire@asu.edu

Correction: April 21, 2011

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the Student U-Pass was free during the 2009-2010 academic year. The Student U-Pass was free in 2008-2009 and cost $80 in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.