Participation in the U-Pass CT program — which would offer students free public transport throughout the state — remains a high priority for the Graduate Student Assembly this year.
Last March, the GSA passed a resolution advocating for the University’s involvement with the state transit program, which allows students at participating institutions free access to Connecticut’s public transit system. The program covers 14 public bus and train lines within state boundaries. In addition, it covers the Metro-North Railroad until the New York border. The Yale College Council has also voiced interest in joining the program, which would reduce commuter expenses to popular destinations like New York City. For example, an off-peak ticket to Grand Central currently runs at $17.75, but by partnering with U-Pass CT, the ticket fare would drop to $10.25.
“One of the things that is challenging about New Haven in particular is that it can be hard to travel outside of the area if you don’t have access to a car,” said Lucylle Armentano GRD ’21, chair of the GSA. “Being able to have reasonably priced access to the world outside of New Haven is really critical.”
Armentano said the GSA’s interest in the reduced fares comes partly from the easier access the program would provide to professional opportunities in New York City and throughout Connecticut. She added that many graduate students have internships or attend conferences outside of New Haven, and the GSA hopes to facilitate lower costs for such ventures.
She also said that reducing transportation costs to New York City provides many personal benefits to students, many of whom frequent the city for its airports, plays and other arts events.
“We think that it’s a good opportunity for students to be involved in all kinds of things across the state,” said Meaghan McGeary GRD ’22, chair of GSA’s Transit and Security Committee. “It would improve our access to places that we don’t have great access to right now.”
She added that the GSA is still trying to figure out the logistics of the possible partnership. One such detail is how Yale would fund the venture, which costs $20 per student per semester. Armentano said that part of the debate with the administration revolves around how that expense would be divided between the University and students.
Another point of discussion is which of Yale’s schools will be involved in U-Pass CT. The GSA is asking the administration to make this program available to graduate students, but Armentano also noted that students at Yale’s professional schools and Yale College would like to opt into the program as well.
While the YCC has not officially partnered with the GSA to pursue the transit deal, YCC President Kahlil Greene ’21 expressed interest in U-Pass CT. He said the program would alleviate many of the transportation barriers that students face when trying to get around New Haven and Connecticut.
“The YCC is very much open to partnering with the GSA to advocate for Yale to participate in the U-Pass Program,” Greene told the News. “We hope to assign someone … to take the helm on this initiative.”
Currently 18 universities participate in Connecticut’s U-Pass program.