Your WatCard is your UPass!
Travel on the Grand River Transit (GRT) system and ION Light Rail Transit (LRT) is unlimited with your UPass.
How it works:
- Tap your WatCard on the smart card reader on the farebox as you enter the GRT Bus or ION Train. Hold your WatCard against the card reader and wait for the farebox to ding. The smart card reader is the blue-green rectangle on the lower right corner of the farebox.
- Do not place your WatCard/UPass in the farebox.
UPass GSA Fees
Full-time graduate students registered in “on-campus” courses on the Waterloo main campus and campuses in the Region of Waterloo are charged a mandatory non-refundable fee for the Grand River Transit (GRT) Universal bus pass (UPass). The UPass fee is assessed per term for the academic year of September 1 to August 31. The fee is included in the “GSA Administered Fees” component on your student financial statement on Quest.
Graduate students enrolled in part-time studies are not assessed the fee. Part-time students voted to be exempt from being charged the universal fee and this is included in the GSA-GRT contract. At this time there is no way for the GSA to approve an individual opt-in for individual students in part-time studies.
GRT & ION UPass Refund Program
The GSA will be continuing the GRT & ION UPass program for Spring 2023 to support graduate students in the region. Since this is a Universal pass, it only works when all members pay their fees (this was approved by referendum when we started the program). As such, the GRT fees will be collected for Spring 2023 term to support running the service.
The GSA-UW and GRT negotiated terms of a new 5-year contract with a base of $107.61 per term for September 2022- August 2023. As part of these new contract negotiations, eligible graduate students at UWaterloo are now able to opt out by requesting a refund for a term.
*GRT & ION UPass Refund Request is open for the Spring 2023 Term*
All UPass refund requests must be completed between May 8-29th, 2023 (overlapping the Change-of-coverage period with our other services).
For instructions on how to submit a refund request, as well as a list of eligibility criteria and required supporting documentation as proof of eligibility, please read the GRT & ION UPass Refund Request Form Submission Guide.
Spring 2023 UPASS Refund Form is open until May 29th
The following are the eligibility criteria/acceptable reasons for UPass refund request:
- (A) You are a UW student who retains a valid Canadian National Institute for the Blind (“CNIB”) registration during the Spring 2023 term.
- (B) You are a UW student who pays fees to UW, but are taking a majority of academic courses at an out-of-region (outside Waterloo Region) University in the Spring 2023 term.
- (C) You are a UW student who holds a valid Accessible Parking Permit issued by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, and are registered with UW Parking Services and UW AccessAbility Services at the beginning of the Spring 2023 term.
- (D) You are a UW student who pays fees to UW, but are considered on professional or academic placement outside the Waterloo Region as part of your degree, which is not considered part of co-operative education.
- (E) You are registered in a research program, have completed your program’s required coursework, and are not taking courses in the Spring 2023 term. *Note: You can only apply for either option E once per school year (September 1 – August 31).
- (F) You are registered in a course-based program and are not taking a full course load in the Spring 2023 term. *Note: You can only apply for either option F once per school year (September 1 – August 31).
Eligible students who drop out of UW or change their enrollment status at UW after the Drop Deadline per the UW Graduate Calendar shall NOT be eligible for a refund of the UPass. In such cases, eligible students who are not refunded shall continue to have access to UPass.
How to Opt In to the GRT & ION UPass Service
Graduate Students at UWaterloo who were previously not given the option to pay the GRT & ION UPass and would like to pay the fee to make use of the UPass for the current Term may be able to do so if they fulfill ONE of the following accommodation criteria:
- (A) A Student Councillor, Director, or Officer of the GSA, or other student representative determined in accordance with the Policies & Procedures of the GSA who would otherwise be eligible for the UPass had they not adjusted their status to take on their current role.
- (B) A Full-Time Student who is undertaking a reduced course schedule as a result of an accommodation as defined in UW Graduate Calendar or as otherwise defined by the University of Waterloo.
- (C) A Full-Time Student that has been advised/ accommodated by the University of Waterloo to undertake a reduced course schedule based on International Visa considerations (or similar) and who would otherwise be eligible for the U-Pass had they not adjusted their status.
- (D) A Co-op Student (student currently engaged in a co-operative work term who would otherwise be eligible for the U-Pass) that may not have been assessed the U-Pass fee.
- (E) Graduate students enrolled at University of Waterloo Satellite campuses that may not have been assessed the UPass fee.
- (F) Graduate students in the region of Waterloo who are on maternity leave or medical leave.
The Accommodation Process:
If you meet one of the accommodation criteria and are interested in opting in to the UPass, please complete the GRT UPass Accommodation Application. GSA-UW will then assess the application and will email the graduate student to let them know if they are eligible to opt in based on the request.
If approved, the student will send a cheque for the cost of the current UPass fee of $107.61 to the GSA to have the GRT UPass added to the student’s Watcard. Once the payment for GRT UPass Fee is accepted, GSA-UW will contact the WATCARD office, who will make the change of status within one week of request.
Please note: GSA-UW will be accepting submissions for accommodations effective immediately.
If you are not eligible for any of the accommodation criteria, you can purchase a GRT monthly pass from UW Turnkey Desk in the Student Life Centre at the University of Waterloo.
Should you have any further questions about GSA Services and opt out/opt in options, please contact our office.