‘Non-free Public Transport is a Roadblock to our own Education’

Ulster University Students Union Coleraine Vice President Ethan Davies says that ‘non-free public transport is a roadblock to our own education’

‘Non-free public transport is a roadblock to our education’ were the cries of Ethan Davies, the Ulster University Student Union Coleraine Vice-President to drum up support for tomorrow’s protest about making public transport free for students.

With the hike in Translink prices, combined with a cost-of-living crisis, students are being hit hard financially of late. While the cost of long-distance journeys to higher education institutions generally outweigh the cost of renting local accommodation, prices on public transport can be around £15 for what would be a 45 minute journey by car. The National Union of Students, alongside Ulster University Students Union organised a protest from Ulster University Coleraine to tie in with their current campaign asking for free transport for those in higher education. 

‘The free public transport protest happening in Coleraine on the ninth of March is happening due to the fact that quite a lot of students are paying obscene amounts of money to attend their classes’ Davies said. ‘If a student has to go from Belfast to Coleraine and back for ten days of classes they have to pay roughly £130, on top of the four grand they already pay with tuition fees’ Davies added. £130 pounds per month spent on transport, multiplied over eight months, which is the average length of two semesters of an undergraduate degree works out at over £1000. 

‘To a lot less serious degree, students who are travelling from Portrush, Portstewart have to pay roughly two pounds a day if they are travelling without a Y-Link card due to the price hike that happened on Monday. It negates a large majority of the Y-Link discount increase which has risen from a third to 50 percent off’ Ethan said. 

‘With the prices going up seven percent, Y-Link took off 33 percent and then if you add on the 17 percent you are effectively only saving, ten percent, because of the price uptake that is already happening’ Ethan said, giving his thoughts on the Y-Link reduction increase for those under 24. ‘Anything that saves students money I am always for, but do not hide it under a goodwill gesture while immediately increasing prices’ Ethan said on the Y-Link increase. 

MLA Cara Hunter has also thrown her support behind the strikes on Twitter. Cara said ‘over the last three years as an MLA I’ve really seen the difficulties and financial pressures students here have truly faced. I think for me, it’s really welcome that Translink have now provided the Y-Link reduction of 50% off, but there’s still a long way to go and ideally we want to see free travel for our students’.

Information on the campaign can be found from https://www.nus-usi.org/free_transport_for_students. The protest will begin from Ulster University’s Coleraine campus on Thursday 9th March at 11am.