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 registration process on the U-Pass app. It may take up to 7 days for your Arc Card to become active at the start of the term. Continuously check the status of your card and in the case of unexpected delays, please ensure that you are paying the required transit fees.
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?

Information on picking up an Arc Card can be found on the SU U-Pass website. You will need to go through the process of activating your new Arc Card again through the U-Pass App.

Why am I getting an "Insufficient Funds" error?

The "insufficient funds" error indicates that there is no active U-Pass attached to your Arc Card and means that you were not assessed the U-Pass fee. You will need to confirm that you have been assessed the U-Pass fee before using your Arc Card.

The "low funds" error often occurs near the end of the term and is a warning to users that the U-Pass is about to reach the end of its validity. If you are assessed the U-Pass fee for the following term, your Arc Card will update and continue to work automatically. 

To confirm your assessment, go to Bear Tracks > Financial Account > Fee Assessment.

Do I need to be a student to get an Arc Card?

Students, Staff, Faculty, Alumni, and Guests of the University of Alberta are eligible to purchase the Arc Card as a member of the public through the website.

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. Ensure that you are scanning the card on its own, outside of a wallet or card carrier. If the issue persists, we recommend purchasing a replacement card.
I have been assessed the U-Pass fee but my ARC card is not working
This is frequently caused by having an incorrect ARC card number entered in the U-Pass app. Please ensure the number on your ARC card is correctly entered in the U-Pass app.
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.

The fee for new or replacement Arc Cards are not included in your Fee Assessment and must be paid at the time of card pickup.

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, Beaumont Transit, 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
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.





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