Students get creative with transportation options

Imagine having to wake up at 6:00 a.m. just to get to an 8:00 a.m. class. That is a reality for numerous Missouri Western students. Commuting to campus has become something of an art form for some off-campus students — from riding the bus to carpooling, these students have found a number of ways to get to their classes.

One of these methods is the St. Joseph Transit system, which partnered with SGA this past year to offer free bus rides to Missouri Western students with a valid student ID. According to SGA President Alec Guy, the previous administration under Brad Stanton and Ida Haefner were instrumental in making that partnership happen.

“There are a lot [of students] that live on campus that might not have a car or some other means of transportation, or even if they live off campus and they need to get here,” Guy said. “So it’s just a nice free means of transportation.”

Guy explained that the 2015–2016 academic year was used as a sort of “trial run” to gauge student interest in the program and to see if the partnership would be a good idea. Jessica Frogge, SGA’s administrative assistant, said Missouri Western’s ridership had to reach 9,500 within that fiscal year for the agreement to be locked in. She says the numbers are promising for the program’s first full year, with over 10,000 rides given to Missouri Western students and employees in the fall 2016 semester alone.

“It is very important for students who come here who don’t necessarily have a car, or international students, or students that… maybe their car breaks down,” Frogge said.

Amanda Miller and Taija King are two Missouri Western students who make use of the bus system to get to class. While they say it is a great free way to get to class, there are some downsides — mainly being held to the existing bus schedule. Miller has to leave home at 6:20 a.m. just to get to her 8:00 a.m. class.

“I’ve had the bus — one too many times — be late,” said Miller, a senior biology major. “It could be improved. But it works. It takes almost two hours to get where I need to go.”

Taija King, a non-traditional freshman majoring in Spanish, is thankful for the opportunity to ride the bus, but she says it does have some inconveniences.

“This is a blessing, the whole ‘Griffons ride for free’ thing,” King said. “Otherwise I couldn’t afford to come.”

However, King, who doesn’t have home internet, says the fact that the bus only runs until 6:00 p.m. every other Saturday and doesn’t run Sundays makes it difficult to do homework and attend campus events held on the weekends.

“Being able to get on campus on the weekends would be a blessing,” King said. “With the buses, when you’re riding them to and from, you have to work with their schedule, and a lot of the events here on campus are after 6:00, so it makes it kind of difficult to stay for those.”

While the bus system is a popular mode of transportation for students living in Saint Joseph, students who live a long distance outside of town often have no choice but to drive themselves.

Maria Messer, a sophomore French education major, lives in Savannah and drives herself to campus three days a week for class and to work in the Non-Traditional and Commuter Student Center. She says carpooling would be a great option if the opportunity came up.

“If there was a way to find out if there was someone else living in Savannah that might come to town on the same days… I’d be open to that,” Messer said.

Many Missouri Western students make the drive to campus from 40 or more miles away. Some of these students have begun to link up with other students that live close to them and established routines for carpooling.

Madison Williams, who travels from Chillicothe, Missouri, is a carpooler with a group of Missouri Western students. Williams says she’s happy with the opportunity to carpool.

“Carpooling with a group of my friends from high school definitely helps the drive go by faster because you have someone to talk to,” Williams said. “Being a commuting student can be expensive when it comes to transportation costs, so it cuts my costs way down.”

Overall, commuting students make their way to campus in a variety of ways — some more convenient than others. But there is certainly no shortage of options.

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