Cold, broke, and disgruntled: Another year of forgetting to renew my student OPUS card

But whose fault is it really?

I can’t keep spending money on 2-trip tickets. Photo Eric Pahmer

It's November again, and I've messed up.

My student OPUS card has not been renewed and it expired on October 31st. Because the card itself is now void, I’m not given the mercy of the first day of the month—to get my shit together—the way monthly passes might grant me. October is over, and so is my mobility. 

For the third day, I'm stopping by the self-serve kiosks near the turnstiles. I’ve memorized the time it takes to get to school, work, and downtown. These orange machines—and the people who take an absolute eternity to use them—have consistently made me two minutes late everywhere I go. 

I've never once renewed my OPUS card on time. The realization that I’ve forgotten again usually hits at midnight on Halloween.

Winter is starting. I’m writing this on Nov. 3 and so far, I've spent $13 on four train rides to and from various other responsibilities I’ve also been shirking. 

My foot is injured and it takes about an hour to walk down from Villeray to Berri-UQAM. Nevertheless, I'll be damned if I let the STM take any more of my money—except to purchase my OPUS card and its subsequent monthly renewals, but also, shut up.

Sure, my airheadedness is to blame for all of this. But as a service provider, the STM has a responsibility to meet the incompetence of its customers halfway. 

There is no good justification for student OPUS cards only lasting a year. Why make people go through this ordeal yearly? Why not every four years like the Olympics? We need time to prepare.

It’s also not insignificant that they expire in November, when the cold makes it a pain in the ass to walk or bike anywhere. 

Why does it even cost money at all? The service hosts about a million trips a day, and yet somehow is not entirely taxpayer funded. Why is this a for-profit business model?

The STM obviously has no idea that in 1997, the Belgian city of Hasselt made all public transport free of charge. Nine years later, ridership had increased thirteen-fold. Similar effects can be seen almost anywhere that’s made the change. There are clearly people being frozen out by high ticket fares!

Our taxes pay for the maintenance of the Old Port, for our parks, and for our schools, but for some reason, the means of actually reaching these places is privatized. Why would you want to prevent people from enjoying their own city?

As a part-time student, I’m not learning enough to still have access to student rates. My card is $100 a month now. I may take extra credits next term out of sheer cheapness.

But, since I do pay for this service, I might as well enjoy the one good seat at the back corner of the bus. Yes, thousands of asses have tarnished the fabric and it smells like mildew, and I have no idea what that stain is, but… 

I’m starting to think this corporation doesn’t have my best interest at heart.