U-Pass Information

Reminder: The 2022 Winter U-Pass product will expire on April 30. The last five days of the month students will see a yellow warning on the validators letting them know that their pass will soon expire.

  • For any students participating in the 2022 Spring/Summer U-Pass program, you will be able to continue to use your Arc Cards during this time.
  • For any student who will be using transit over the spring and summer and who are not participating in the U-Pass program, please contact your local transit agency for pass options.You will not have the option to continue using your Arc card over the summer if you are not participating in the 2022 Spring/Summer U-Pass program.
If you are not enrolled in Spring/Summer classes, but will be enrolled in classes as of Fall 2022, please keep your Arc Cards, as these same cards can be used for the next school year.

Arc Card Distribution

For current Arc Card distribution information, visit the SU U-Pass Page.

Access the U-Pass App

Important Note:

  • Please see Common Questions below for addressing some common user issues.
  • All students must be using their Arc cards by October 1, 2021.
  • More details on ETS's new Arc system can be found here.
U-Pass Eligibility

All students registered on-campus in at least one for-credit course at the University of Alberta Edmonton Campuses during the Fall, Winter and/or Spring/Summer term will be assessed the U-Pass fee.

The following students are exempt from the U-Pass:

  • Students at Augustana
  • Students enrolled only in the Executive MBA program
  • Graduate students designated as Off-campus Thesis students
  • Faculty of Extension Students (including those in the English Language Program)

Students who are exempt from the U-Pass program are not eligible to opt-in.

Students completing their Co-op or Practicum term in Edmonton and who have not been assessed the U-Pass fee, are asked to fill out a Service Request Form. Students will receive a notification from the Registrar's Office regarding their eligibility for a U-Pass for that semester. Please note that the Spring/Summer Service Request Form is available in late April, the Fall Service Request Form is available in late August and the Winter form is available in December. 
U-Pass Exemptions

Students can apply for an exemption to the U-Pass if they fall into one of the categories listed below:

  • An employee of one of the participating transit systems,
  • A student with a valid disabled transit registration,
  • A student with a valid CNIB registration card,
  • A student also registered at either NAIT, MacEwan University, NorQuest, or
  • A thesis student conducting research out of the transit service area for more than 2 months of the term (you must provide a letter from your supervisor confirming this with your application).

To apply for an exemption

  • Please submit the U-Pass Service Exemption Form.
  • If you are a student on a co-op or work experience program and your placement is outside of the transit service area, please go to your co-op or work experience office to apply for an exemption to the U-Pass.

Deadlines to apply
December 31 for the Fall term, April 30 for the Winter term, and August 31 for the Spring/Summer term.

If you intend to apply for an exemption, do not pick up your Arc Card

U-Pass Terms and Conditions
  1. The U-Pass is not valid until it has been loaded onto compatible Smart Fare Media Card and the current calendar day is within the validity period for the U-Pass; 
  2. The U-Pass is non-transferable, is not available for resale, and may only be used by the Participating Student to whom the U-Pass is issued; 
  3. Edmonton Transit, St. Albert Transit, Strathcona County Transit, Spruce Grove Transit, Fort Saskatchewan Transit, Leduc Transit and Beaumont Transit, reserve the right to verify the validity of any Participating Student’s U-Pass; 
  4. A Participating Student who fails to comply with the rules, regulations, policies and bylaws of Edmonton Transit, St. Albert Transit, Strathcona County Transit, Spruce Grove Transit, Fort Saskatchewan Transit, Leduc Transit, or Beaumont Transit respecting ridership may have their ridership privileges revoked without refund of the U-Pass Fee; and  
  5. Edmonton Transit, St. Albert Transit, Strathcona County Transit, Spruce Grove Transit, Fort Saskatchewan Transit, Leduc Transit, and Beaumont Transit reserve the right to modify their respective transit routes and schedules.

Common Questions

What is U-Pass?

The Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass) is an initiative of the Students' Union and the Graduate Students' Association, the local transit authorities, and the University of Alberta to deliver affordable and sustainable transit to the students of the University of Alberta. In 2007, students of the University voted to accept a mandatory fee assessment for the U-Pass.

Where can I get my U-Pass Arc card?

View distribution information here.

Can I add an Arc card if I haven’t been assessed my U-Pass fee yet?
Yes, you can load a card onto the U-Pass app at any time.Once your U-Pass fee is assessed it will be automatically added to your card.
How long will activation take?
It takes less than 5 min to complete the activation process on the U-Pass app. Your Arc card will be fully functional the next day.
Do I need to replace my Arc card every term?
No, if you are assessed a U-Pass fee in the term, your card is automatically updated with the new U-Pass each semester. You can continue to use your original card for all future U-Passes.
What happens if I lose my Arc card?
You can pick up a replacement Arc card at Student Life Central in SUB, or from the OneCard office in HUB at a cost for replacement. Once you have your replacement Arc card, you can activate it on the U-Pass app as before. Your new Arc card will be fully functional the next day.
Why am I getting an "Insufficient Funds" error?

When tapping their ARC card, the students who have received the "insufficient funds" message are most likely students who do not have a Fall 2021 U-Pass assessment or have not activated their card in the system.

For example, students who are entirely online/remote this semester and were not eligible to be assessed the fee or are on a work term would need to opt-in with the RO service request form. The eligibility calculation by the Registrar is also calculated off of the primary course components. So a student with online lecture sections (primary component) and an in-person lab are computed as "online" and thus not assessed the U-Pass fee.

Why am I getting a "Card Read Error"?
Very often, a "Card Read Error" can be caused by an RFID blocking wallet/card carrier that the students have placed the ARC card into, or a defective card. Students with a defective card should return to an Arc Card distribution location (Student Life Central (lower level SUB), the International Services Centre (Telus Centre), and the ONEcard Office (HUB) to replace their cards.
How does the U-Pass program work?

U-Pass is a group discount program, which lowers the cost of transit for University of Alberta students.

The U-Pass program is available for all students, graduate and undergraduate, registered in classes in the Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer Terms. The U-Pass is much lower than the cost of purchasing monthly passes for the same period of time because costs are spread over a large participant base.

U-Pass fees are collected by the University and transferred to transit providers to help fund the transit service.
Can I use the U-Pass for Spring/Summer terms?

All undergraduate students registered in EITHER a Spring or a Summer term class will be assessed the U-Pass fee. Students registered in both Spring and Summer terms may notice that they are assessed the U-Pass fee twice. This double assessment will be corrected automatically after the Spring Add/Delete deadline. No further action is required.

Students registered in a Spring or Summer class are able to continue to use their current ARC card. The pass is valid May 1 - August 31.
Can I use the U-Pass for the Airport 747 Bus?
Yes, U-Pass can be used to take this route.
How are fees collected from me?

If you want to confirm that you are assessed the U-Pass fee, please check your Account Details or Fee Assessment in Bear Tracks for the appropriate terms. You can find these under the Financials Menu.

The fees for the U-Pass will be assessed for each Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer term that a student is registered and will be reported on your fee assessment on Bear Tracks.

The opt-out deadline for the U-Pass is the end of the term; December 31 for the Fall term, April 30 for the Winter term and August 31 for Spring/Summer term.
How much does U-Pass cost?

The cost for the U-Pass for Fall 2021, Winter 2022 and Spring/Summer 2022 will be $180 per term for all undergraduate and graduate students.

Graduate students in:

course-based Master's programs will be assessed the U-Pass fees during any term which they are registered for courses. The U-Pass fee is assessed once (in Spring) for both the Spring and Summer terms.

thesis-based Master's and PhD programs admitted after Fall 2011, will be assessed the U-Pass fee at the start of Fall, Winter, and Spring terms. The U-Pass fee is assessed once (in Spring) for both the Spring and Summer terms.

thesis-based Master's and PhD programs admitted prior to Fall 2011, who have Winter term registration(s), are considered active students through Spring/Summer terms and therefore will be assessed the Spring/Summer U-Pass fee in the Winter term.
What can I ride with U-Pass?

The U-Pass is valid any time, anywhere on regular ETS, St. Albert Transit, Strathcona County, Leduc Transit, Fort Saskatchewan Transit, and Spruce Grove Transit like a four-month bus pass. ETS will accept U-Pass on DATS. Your U-Pass can be used on Route 747 (direct service to the Edmonton International Airport).

Exclusions include:

  • St. Albert Transit Handibus and Strathcona County Transit SCAT disabled adult transit services
  • Non-regular charter and special event services
  • Contracted services operated by ETS, St. Albert Transit, and Strathcona County Transit for outlying communities such as service to Morinville and Beaumont
Why is the U-Pass mandatory?

The U-Pass mandatory fee was overwhelmingly endorsed by University of Alberta students through referenda in 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2017. 2010 marked the end of a 3-year pilot project.

A universal participation base is fundamental to the U-Pass concept, allowing the costs of transit service to be spread across a large population. Student buying power is also increased when pooled, which helps further bring the price down. To ensure that the U-Pass price remains low, all full-time and part-time on-campus students must be part of the program.