Universal Transit Pass

Universal Transit Pass

University of Minnesota students who pay the Transportation and Safety Fee have unlimited access to the regional transit system in the Twin Cities metro area (rides on the NorthStar require a small supplemental fare for each ride). 

How to Use & Activate Your Universal Transit Pass

Your U Card is the pass for this program.

When first tapping your U Card at a light rail station or student union activation machine, you should hear a loud beep and a flash "GO". 

If you don't see the "GO" message, tap your U Card twice at least one hour apart at any Metro Transit light rail station or at the Coffman/St. Paul Student Center Activation Stations.  When you first tap, you will receive a message that says "Invalid."  On the second tap, you will receive a "GO" message and hear a loud beep.

After activating, your U Card will work on any bus or light rail train.

Resource Link

Metro Transit

Universal Transit Pass Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I get a pass?

All students are automatically enrolled when they pay the Transportation and Safety Fee. The U Card is the pass for this program. Those who pay the spring fee continue to have access to the transit system through the summer.

Who is eligible?

Students who pay the Transportation and Safety Fee.

How do I activate my pass?

Watch your email to learn when you can start activating your pass. Once you receive the message, activate your pass as soon as possible.

For students, when first tapping your U Card, the messages to expect are:

  • On rail - it will flash "GO" and beep loudly
  • Coffman/St. Paul Student Center Activation Station - it will flash "GO" and beep loudly

If you don't see the "GO" message, tap your U Card twice at least one hour apart at any Metro Transit light rail station or at the Coffman/St. Paul Student Center Activation Stations.

  • When you first tap, you will receive a message that says "Invalid."
  • On the second tap, you will receive a "GO" message and hear a loud beep.

If you have issues with activation, email buspass@umn.edu for assistance.

How do I know if I paid the Transportation & Safety Fee?

Review your student account to determine what tuition and fees have been charged to you. You can view/print your Student Account in the My Finances Tab of MyU. One Stop has a guide to help assist you with this process.

Which groups are eligible for opting into the Universal Transit Pass?

The following groups are eligible to opt into the UTP:

  • 95XX Graduate/Professional Workers
  • Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO)
  • Advanced/Thesis Grad Students (GRAD 999 Ineligible)
  • International Student Interns/Scholars (U Card Required)
  • MN English Language Program
  • MAST International
  • Academic Plan Exclusions (ex: Tuition by fees, full scholarships, programs not assessed the fee)

Excluded groups include: Regents Scholarship, Senior Citizen Education Program, Online/Distance Learning and Non-Degree seeking students.

I do not pay the Transportation & Safety Fee and would like to opt in to the Universal Transit Pass. What should I do?

Thank you for your interest in the pass.  The opt-in period for Spring Semester 2023 has closed.

If you are a 95xx student, please email buspass@umn.edu and those requests will be answered on a case-by-case basis.

How can I opt out of the Transportation and Safety Fee?

This is a mandatory, non-refundable fee associated with tuition costs for attending the University.  The only students who are pre-approved to not pay the fee are: post-secondary option high school students, Regents Scholarship recipients, and students registered in off-campus, non-metro courses, or Online and Distance Learning courses only. If you believe that you fit these categories and have paid the fee, please contact OneStop.

What groups are ineligible for this program?

Ineligible groups include, but are not limited to: full-time faculty and staff, Regents Scholarship recipients, participants in the Senior Citizen Education Program (SCEP), and students in off-site or remote-only programs. Program eligibility is determined by a person’s status within academic programs, tuition groups, and PeopleSoft categories that are set by the college or department. View the full list of exceptions.

How much does UTP cost and how will it be funded?

UTP costs $45 per semester/$90 per year, including summer. This is up to a 74% savings off of the previous U-Pass program (when including cost of fall, spring, and summer U-Pass).

In 2021-2022, the Transportation and Safety Fee was $26 and covered campus transit only. Under UTP, the Transportation and Safety Fee would increase to $71 per semester to cover both campus buses and unlimited rides on regional transit. The Transportation and Safety Fee is considered part of the total cost of attendance and can be covered by financial aid assistance. This cost assumes that all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students automatically enroll in the program. 

What transit pass program is available for faculty and staff?

While there is no plan to include faculty and staff in the Universal Transit Pass program at this time, eligible faculty and staff can purchase the Metropass, a monthly unlimited ride pass. Learn about Metropass.

I currently use the Go-To functionality on the U Card? Will UTP interfere with that functionality?

The Universal Transit Pass should not interfere with the Go-To functionality that is available on the U Card. You should be able to continue to use the Go-To functionality even after the pass is loaded onto your U Card.

Will I need to replace my U Card for UTP to work?

Look at the issue date on the lower left corner of the back of your card. If the date is July 1, 2016 or later, the card is compatible with new card readers. U Cards over five years old are eligible for a replacement card from the U Card Office at no cost.

How can I keep my UTP/U Card from getting damaged?

Be sure not to put your card near magnets or wireless chargers, such as cell phone chargers. Please refer to the U Card page with tips on basic card care. 

I want to ride the Northstar commuter rail. Is that covered by UTP?

Northstar fares are determined by the day of the week and distance traveled; there are no rush-hour fares on Northstar trains.

A Metropass, Universal Transit Pass, College Pass, or Student Pass is valid for $3.25 toward your Northstar fare. Any remaining fare can be paid using stored value from your pass. Add value to your pass here.

What happens to the current bus pass programs?

The current U-Pass and Campus Zone Pass programs are retired.  Campus Connectors and Campus Circulators continue to operate.

Why is Universal Transit Pass a priority?

A Universal Transit Pass program provides low-cost transportation for all Twin Cities students and helps to meet the following goals:   

  • Equity  
    • Reduces pass cost by up to 74% versus the current U-Pass. 
    • Connects home/campus for most students whether urban or suburban. 
      Connects to the airport.
  • Access to Food
    • Expands access to healthy, affordable food options. 
  • Sustainability
    • Reduces the need for single-occupancy vehicles (SOVS) -  a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Safety
    • Provides frequent rides in all weather and at all hours of the day.
    • Reduces single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) on campus making walking and biking safer.

What groups were consulted as part of the UTP planning?

Consultation occurred with Recognized Student Governance Associations (RSGAs) – Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Council of Graduate Students (COGS), and Professional Student Government (PSG).  The RSGAs consulted with their respective bodies (committees, task forces, etc.) before providing their recommendation to the Administration.  A survey of all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who pay the Transportation and Safety Fee was also conducted.

This proposal was approved with the Board of Regents July 2022 meeting.

What is the full timeline for program implementation?

The goal was to evaluate program parameters and establish student support in spring semester 2022 and start in fall semester 2022.

Other Metro Transit Passes

Learn more about other Metro Transit Passes and Fares.