In Spring of 2020, the HSR student bus pass was temporarily suspended through the end of December 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced McMaster University to move classes online. Students have already received a rebate on their Mosaic account, for the unused portion of the 2019/2020 bus pass. In addition, a portion of the 2020-2021 HSR fee was waived for the fall semester. Many students already lived in Hamilton and despite online classes, thousands more returned to the city in September. McMaster students have noted their continued need to access campus, their employment, and other necessities such as medical care and groceries.
The MSU engaged with representatives of the HSR for months, in hopes of crafting the best outcome for students. As of December 2020, the HSR has agreed to lower the pending (and already reduced) charge of $120.98 to $59.62. The 2021 student bus pass will come into effect on January 1, 2021 and will remain valid through August 21, 2021.
Presto voucher codes will be made available to all full-time undergraduate students via Mosaic by December 22. Once a student receives a voucher code, it can be loaded onto any existing Presto card. New Presto cards can be ordered here. For step-by-step instructions on how to load a voucher code onto a Presto card, watch this video. Please wait 24 hours after loading a voucher code before tapping it on an HSR bus. In addition, a Presto card must be tapped on to a bus within 45 days of activating a voucher code.
Recognizing the online nature of classes for many students, the MSU requested both a large fee reduction, as well as an opt-in / opt-out provision for the remainder of 2020-2021 bus pass term. Students will be saving over 50% on the pending bus pass charge. Unfortunately, the HSR rejected the request to include options for opt-outs or opt-ins for the remainder of the 2020-2021 contract term. However, if at any point the HSR reinstitutes a no-fare system due to increased pandemic regulations, McMaster students will again be refunded for any remaining balance on the contract terms.
It is anticipated that there will be a greater need for McMaster students to access campus in the winter term, due to an increase in the number of courses with a component deemed essential for in-person delivery. Numerous classes with either an essential or optional in-person element were pushed to second semester, after the University first announced online fall classes. In addition, there are a number of students who require an in-person practicum, placement, or lab(s), as part of their degree.
Moreover, for students living in Hamilton, the winter months bring heightened mobility concerns. As snow and ice begin to accumulate on sidewalks and streets, biking and walking become less available and public transit becomes essential. Without transit, many students would have a difficult time accessing groceries, seeking medical assistance, or reaching work / volunteer opportunities. This is especially true for students with disabilities and people who use mobility devices.
The approximately 75% reduction of the total HSR bus pass fee is consistent with the MSU’s efforts to maximize savings while providing value to students during the pandemic. The MSU has reduced every fee for which is has control, including the MSU Organization Fee, the CFMU fee and MUSC fee – all by 25%. The reduction of the HSR bus pass charge is one of the largest savings provided to students this year by any fee holding group at McMaster University.
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