VIA Rail is once again offering its Unlimited Semester Pass for students. This product is exclusive to travellers between the ages of 12 to 25 years old or travellers aged 26 years old and above with a valid ISIC card. You will have until
December 31, 2014 to make the purchase.
There are two Unlimited Semester Passes to choose from:
- $499 + taxes – unlimited travel between two travel zones, either between “Kingston and Windsor” (West) or “Kingston and Québec City” (East)
- $799 + taxes – unlimited travel between VIA stations throughout the entire Québec City – Windsor Corridor
The taxes depends on the province you made the purchase from. Basically if you live in Quebec, I suggest that you make the purchase while you happen to be in Ontario to save you the 2% spread on sales taxes. I am curious to know if you can make the purchase at a VIA Rail station in Alberta (if you happen to be there anyway). The pass does not reach Alberta, but maybe you can still purchase it there.
The passes are valid for 120 days in Economy class only following its activation. So you can always make the purchase first, to meet the December 31, 2014 deadline and then activate it when it makes sense for you.
Just in case you are still on the fence about buying the pass, the passes are refundable and exchangeable, less a $50 service charge (plus applicable taxes), provided that:
- The pass has not expired.
- No trips have been made using the pass.
- No tickets booked with the pass have been cancelled after the applicable train’s scheduled departure.
- Once a trip has been made, or a ticket using the Unlimited Semester Pass for youth has been cancelled after the train’s scheduled departure, the pass becomes completely non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Tickets booked using an
- Unlimited Semester Pass for youth may be cancelled at any time prior to the scheduled departure of the train.
You cannot allow another person to use your pass. Each trip booked using a Unlimited Semester Pass for youth is non-transferable and is only valid for travel by the person in whose name the Unlimited Semester Pass has been issued.
Conclusion: Personally I am a big fan of VIA Rail and there was a time when I definitely would have purchased this pass. I am no longer in the age range and I do not have a valid ISIC card, so this will not be possible any more. But if you do meet the conditions and you travel often enough within this corridor, I would definitely do some calculations to determine whether it is worthwhile for you to make the purchase.
Here are some examples of calculations:
- If you generally pay $35 one-way before taxes and you go with the $499 pass, you will need to go on 15 one-way trips to be ahead. That is 5 one-way trips every 30 day cycle.
- If you pay $70 one-way before taxes, if you go with the $799 pass, you will need to go on 12 one-way trips to be ahead of the game. That is 4 one-way trips every 30 day cycle.