Your Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) negotiates with GRT so we can have unlimited, safe and affordable access to public transportation across the Waterloo region.

Eligible students can tap their Watcard before riding and enjoy both the bus and light rail systems.

This program uses collective bargaining, by WUSA on behalf of all undergraduates, to save each student over $850 over the course of the school year. That’s a savings of over $3200 in a typical 4-year degree.Students must have a Canadian bank account on Quest by the end of October in order to receive their direct deposit refund later this term. If not, that credit will roll over into paying towards your next term of fees.

For bus/ION schedules, visit the GRT website.

Don’t forget to thank your friendly bus driver!

Eligibility – Who qualifies?

All full-time, Waterloo Undergraduates can ride.

These conditions affect your access to GRT’s systems:

  • Full-time students: You must be taking at least three courses (or 1.5 credits) to automatically be charged the U-Pass fee on Quest.
  • New Watcard: Tap verification with a brand new WatCard should start working in 2 to 4 days. GRT’s data gets updated on a daily basis by WatCard on behalf of WUSA.
  • Did you just become Fees arranged? Tap verification systems will take 2 to 4 days to update.
  • GBDA: You were not automatically charged in case you live in Stratford full-time. You can buy into a U-Pass at the discounted rate at the SLC or DC Turnkey Desk.
  • Eligible for a refund this term?
    • Students who are charged the fee but are enrolled in a term where they are not enrolled full-time in on campus classes are eligible for a refund.
    • Student who paid fees in a term where they are on professional or academic placement outside the Waterloo Region are eligible for refund.
    • Other cases are available in Part IX of the UPASS Agreement
  • The Winter 2023 UPass fee Refund request form is closed for the term

Not Taking Three Classes?

  • In-between two full-time terms? If you paid the U-Pass fee last term, you should have access. If you run into an issue with access, you’ll need to visit the WUSA Turnkey Desk and explain your situation.
  • Registered with AccessAbility Services? You can purchase at the discounted rate in the WUSA Turnkey Desk.
  • Do you have non-credit degree courses, seminars, partial credit labs, field courses, or a need to access on-campus resources regularly? Exceptions can be made to opt you into the U-Pass program in some cases, leave us a note to inquire whether you can enroll in a U-Pass.

If you do not meet the requirements of the program due to not enough classes, GRT EasyGO fare cards are available for purchase at both SLC & DC Turnkey Desks.

The cards themselves are $5, with a $10 load minimum. With this card, ride fares are reduced to $2.92.

For other GRT fare options, follow this link: https://www.grt.ca/en/fares-passes/fares.aspx

Transit Hubs

The GRT system connects the Tri-Cities (Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge) together. GRT operates seven days a week and covers over 50 routes. The #7 (main line) and iXpress are the most popular bus routes, as they pass through many major centres around Kitchener-Waterloo. In addition, the ION Light Rail system runs from Fairway Mall through Uptown Waterloo to Conestoga Mall, connecting Kitchener to Waterloo. UW Station transit plaza is located in UW’s East Campus near Engineering 5.

Use Google Maps to see your transit options. Google Maps is synced with live GRT bus times.


WUSA’s agreement with GRT sets up payment only on your academic terms but allows use all year long. You remain U-Pass eligible for one off-term, summer for example, or the duration of your co-op term. This includes students on 8-month work terms.

If your Watcard fails to validate, it may be due to technical issues, or you may not be enrolled in the U-Pass program. Send an email with your student # to watcard@uwaterloo.ca and they can explore further.
Yes, UPass holders will have full access to the ION Light Rail. Tap at the station before you get on the train.
As students’ legal representatives at the University of Waterloo, WUSA negotiates the U-Pass contracts with GRT on behalf of all undergrads.
The current system was put in place after initiating talks with the Region of Waterloo. Prior to the implementation of the U-Pass program in 2007, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association held a referendum on a universal transit pass for full-time undergraduate students. To implement the results of this referendum, WUSA entered into two agreements. This agreement lays out the process for the collection of fees and provision of services regarding the universal bus pass.
The second agreement is between the WUSA, the Region of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo, which allows for WatCards to be used as transit passes and sets out rules for the confiscation of WatCards if misuse or fraud occurs.