Parkland students face tough transportation decisions

Aron Ammann

Staff Writer

While many students reside in Champaign, with the commute to class no more than a few minutes, some must travel greater distances to learn. Many modes of transportation are used to get here; from walking, to driving, or catching a ride with a friend. From riding a bicycle, to riding a bus, to hailing a taxi; we all must arrive at our destination somehow.

While walking or biking to class may be the healthiest, most cost effective, and ecofriendly mode of transportation to class, not everyone lives close enough to take advantage of the things that walking or biking have to offer.

Parkland student George Cruickshank chooses to ride the bus to class most days and calls MTD a reliable system. Cruickshank still offers a few negative aspects of using the bus for his commute to Parkland.

One of those negatives for Cruickshank is the scheduling of the routes and connecting buses. In order to make it to class on time, he must leave an hour and a half before he would actually need to. The problem is that if he were to try and get to Parkland just before his class started he would be on a route that arrives at the terminal one minute after the connecting bus to the college. That one minute gives him no other option than to catch the earlier bus in order to be at the terminal on time for his connecting one.

Even though an hour and a half doesn’t seem like a lot of time, to a full time student who also has a job, those 90 minutes can be well used doing something productive. While he understands the reasoning behind it, one other complaint of Cruickshank’s is that the bus system works much better for U of I students to get around campus than it does for him and his fellow Parkland students. University students use their student IDs as bus passes to ride the bus around campus at no charge.

“I understand that is part of their tuition, but we pay taxes. Why is it that we have to pay to ride the bus to Parkland?” Cruickshank asked. Although he must pay to ride the bus to class, Cruickshank was resourceful and used part of his financial aid package to purchase his yearly bus pass from the Parkland bookstore.

A visit to the MTD website will give you all the information you need to travel to Parkland using the bus system. From a trip planner, to an app garage, and an FAQ section everything you need to know is just a click away, including the pricing for Parkland students. That price is the regular fare of $1.00 per one-way trip. Discounts are available with the purchase an Annual Pass for $72.00.

On the other side of the spectrum is Parkland student Taylor Bork, who enjoys the freedom that driving on his own to class brings him.

“I can just hop in my car and leave whenever I want to,” Bork said. It also allows him a much easier and efficient way to get to work after class.

With that driving freedom also comes a few negatives as well. Bork mentioned the heavy traffic he faces during his commute to Parkland, as well as the condition of many area roads after last winter’s heavy snowfall took its toll.

“The potholes on Mattis avenue tried to swallow my car,” Bork explained.

If catching a bus, walking, biking, or driving isn’t an option, hailing a cab is another reliable way to get to class on time. While the fare will vary based on the length of your ride, in a pinch, a taxi is one more way to get yourself to Parkland.

With all of these options to get to class at Parkland, and around town, what options are there for getting back home on the weekends or for a holiday for those without a car?

Luckily, there are several options to choose from that include shuttles, buses rental cars, and trains. Suburban Express and Illini Shuttle offer up to 6 trips daily to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs for about $30.00 one way. You can also ride the Amtrak train from Champaign to Chicago, with many stops between them, for roughly $30.00 dollars one way as well.

Greyhound bus services offer the cheapest fair to Chicago and its suburbs with an online only price of $17.00. The most expensive option is renting a car for your trip back home, but with the higher price also comes the freedom of scheduling and stops on the road. There are rental car deals to be found online though, which can make it a much more affordable choice.

According to the Student Life website, public transportation to Parkland College from Champaign and Urbana is provided by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit. Bus service begins at approximately 6:30 a.m. and runs until 10:30 p.m. daily. The 9B Brown, 9A Brown, and 7E Grey buses load and unload outside the Student Union entrance.

For route maps and schedules visit the Office of Student Life, Room U111, ask any bus driver, or call the C-U Mass Transit, at 217-384-8188. Semester or annual bus passes may be purchased through the Illinois Terminal office, 45 E. University Avenue, Champaign, Illinois 61820.