Cancellation of AMS Bus-It Program is unfair for students returning to campus

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The cancellation of the AMS Bus-It program is a point of frustration this fall. Considering the cost of public transportation and campus parking passes, the program is a needed lifeline for student mobility around the city, especially for students living off-campus.

The previous AMS executive stated the cancellation of the program was based on a lack of confidence in operations resuming in-person on campus in the fall. The decision should’ve prevented students from paying mandatory bus fees for a potentially remote semester.

The verdict was announced in early February, several months too early to fully predict the public health circumstances of the upcoming fall.

Bus-It’s termination was reasonable in 2020—only a small portion of students were present on campus for the remote study year.

However, residence for the 2021-22 year fits 4,300 students—93 per cent of the total capacity. Many students have moved to Kingston this fall semester to attend in-person activities. Surely, the decision to cancel or re-introduce Bus-It could’ve been postponed—or revisited by the current AMS when they had access to the confirmed fall plans this summer.

If the AMS wants to provide for Queen’s students, this is an initiative where they’ve missed the mark. The AMS Bus-It termination doesn’t consider student financial difficulties, replacing a $93.82 fee for a year’s worth of bus rides with a separate $119 cost per semester.

This is unfair for all students, especially for those coming from a low-income background.  

The lack of available public transport is even more detrimental for incoming students.

Bus routes are great aids in transitioning to a completely new environment. They allow students to explore Kingston and meet with friends. Their absence creates the extra stress from having to plan out the time and route schedule for getting to classes—a task that would’ve been easier before the pandemic.

For those who’ve never ridden the bus—like students who come from a small towns—the separate payment discourages them from taking advantage of a convenient opportunity to simplify getting around and expand their horizons.

The decision could also impact student mental health.

Without accessible bus routes, student communities can become physically—and emotionally—isolated. Meanwhile, a late-night bus ride can be a much-needed reprieve from an anxious walk home after class in the dark.

For both the university and the city, the termination creates a lose-lose scenario.

Aside from gambling the students’ safety and accessibility, without public transportation the Queen’s bubble is bound to become more impenetrable. Fewer students may be willing to venture off campus and access local restaurants, stores, and other services.

In the future, the AMS should reinstate the Bus-It program. It’ll be a clear signal to Queen’s students they’re supported and welcome on campus and off.

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