Friday, February 14, 2020

The Universal Student U-PASS Advisory Board is getting set to recommend a fee increase to the Student Universal U-PASS program for academic year 2020-2021.  The last increase in the student U-PASS fee happened in 2015.  Since then transit costs have significantly increased with the opening of the University of Washington Link light rail station, and transit agency fare increases, and student population growth.

In order to cover student U-PASS program costs for next year, the Student U-PASS Advisory Board is proposing the following changes:

  • A $2/quarter U-PASS fee increase for academic year 2020-2021 ($86/quarter).
  • Renewing the Student U-PASS Memorandum of Understanding through June 2021.

This recommended increase will ensure that the Student Universal U-PASS program is able to meet program costs for fiscal year 2021 (July 2020 – June 2021).  The Advisory Board will go through a more in-depth review of program costs leading into fiscal year 2022, when the Link light rail extension to Northgate opens.

The U-PASS Advisory Board will hold an open meeting on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. in HUB 332 to gather student feedback on proposed fee increases.  For those who cannot attend the meeting, you can submit feedback at


Frequently asked questions

1. What does the Student Universal U-PASS cover?

The U-PASS provides you with many options for getting to UW and the region:

The U-PASS does not cover travel on Washington State Ferries.

2. What is the difference in cost between U-PASS and other transit products?

Fees as of February, 2020

Universal Student U-PASS

ORCA Puget Pass 
(King County Metro only)
$297/quarter ($99/month)


ORCA Puget Pass
(All regional transit)

$567/quarter ($189/month)


3. What is the history of the student U-PASS program?

1991: Strong student leadership contributed to the creation of the U-PASS – a subsidized transportation pass to improve access to campus and reduce traffic and environmental impacts.

2009-2010: Rapidly rising transit costs cause the U-PASS rate to increase from $49 to $99. A broad survey of students found that 79% support a Universal U-PASS to control spiraling costs.

2010-2012: Both ASUW and GPSS senates pass resolutions establishing the Universal U-PASS program. The Student U-PASS Advisory Board was established to oversee the student U-PASS program.

2011-2012: The Universal Student U-PASS program begins with a commitment on a two-year guarantee fee through a Memorandum of Agreement between the student senates and the University administration.

2015: Students reaffirm commitment to Universal U-PASS through a new Memorandum of Agreement, The fee was set at $84/quarter.

2019: The Student U-PASS Advisory Board amends the Memorandum of Agreement to allow an exemption from the Universal fee for students that receive the fully-subsidized U-PASS through their employment with the University of Washington.

4. Why is the Student U-PASS Advisory Board considering a fee increase to begin Fall Quarter 2020?

The Student U-PASS Advisory Board goes through a review of the two-year financial review each year to determine if a fee increase will be required to cover transit costs moving forward. ased on program cost projections for fiscal year 2021 (July 2020 – June 2021), the student U-PASS fee will need to be increased in order to cover program costs. 

5. How are student U-PASS program costs calculated?

The Student U-PASS program budget projections are prepared by Transportation Services each fall for the Advisory Board’s review.  This analysis includes a two-year projection of program costs which includes transit expenses, NightRide shuttle service, and administrative costs to operate the program.

Transit costs projections are based on anticipated changes in student population, transit service and transit fares. The University pays for each transit trip taken using U-PASS by a student or employee.

6. What is the Student U-PASS Funding Model?

The Student U-PASS is funded through a cooperative funding model between ASUW, GPSS, Transportation Services and the Office of Planning and Budget. There are three sources of funding that support the program:

Universal Student U-PASS fee:  Every University of Washington Seattle campus student who pays the Services and Activities Fee and who is not eligible for a fully-subsidized U-PASS through their employment with the University of Washington is required to pay the quarterly U-PASS fee and there are no exemptions.

The U-PASS Fee is authorized under RCW 28B.15.610, and students are required by law to pay all fees that the student body has voluntarily elected to impose. Therefore, the U-PASS Fee cannot be waived or refunded, regardless of student status. We realize that many students do not receive the full benefits of the mandatory fees they pay, including the U-PASS Fee, the Student Activities Fee, the Student Technology Fee, the IMA Bond Fee, the Building Fee, and others

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) fee: A portion of parking revenue from all permits sold to faculty, staff, students, and visitors goes to help support UW shuttles and the student/employee U-PASS programs.  Facilities Services and Transportation Services set the policy for how this fee is distributed to the student U-PASS program.

University subsidy: The Office of Planning & Budget provides a subsidy to the student U-PASS program equivalent to 10% of program costs each year (maximum of $1.8 million).

Almost 98% of the total program costs go directly to pay transit and NightRide expenses. Other expenses include administrative costs to support the student U-PASS program.