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Howard University Not Participating in Metro U-Pass Program Disadvantages Students

The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) reinstated the U-Pass program for eligible college students for the fall 2021 semester.

U-Pass program promotional graphic. Photo courtesy of Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) reinstated the U-Pass program for eligible college students for the fall 2021 semester. However, Howard University is not a part of the program, leaving some students frustrated and disadvantaged.

The U-Pass program was initiated in 2016 with intentions of providing full-time college students a reliable, affordable and safe means of transportation for all of their academic needs throughout the school year. Since launching the pilot program in August 2016 at American University, over 20 universities and satellite schools within the Metro service area have taken advantage of the program. However, Howard is not included in that list. 

During the Fall 2020 semester, about 5,300 Howard students received need-based financial aid, according to institutional data, indicative of the financial makeup of Howard’s student body. The financial burden of transportation has been excessive for some students, such as sophomore philosophy major Kyla Warman, who has spent more than $25 on Uber rides transporting to community service events. 

Warman expressed how students have “to rely on public transportation such as Uber and Lyft, which is not always cost-efficient nor is safe.” Furthermore, she believed the University’s lack of participation “shows a lack of priority for students’ safety and transportation needs.”

If Howard participated in this program, students like Warman would save on their transportation needs throughout the semester. The U-Pass offers students the ability to ride an unlimited amount of times daily for $1. The cost of the pass would already be included in students’ tuition because of the program’s structure and would give students access to the Metrorail and Metrobus. 

Briann Theophile, a junior television and film major, is one of many students who’d be grateful to use this service since she lives off campus.

“If this program were implemented, I’d pretty much use it all the time,” Theophile said. 

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The university is considering participating in the U-Pass program in the future, according to Jarrett Carter Sr., the Director of Operations Strategy and Communications at the University.

“We have to have a better sense of one, which students want to participate, and two, how to negotiate with Metro to make it accessible for those students,” Carter said, expressing how funding and overall logistics have proven to be disruptive to the progression of implementing the program.

The earliest the program could be implemented is spring 2022. A survey is being created by Institutional Research and students can expect to receive an email early next week.

Copy edited by Lauryn Wilson

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