By Taylor Provost, Staff Writer
As a commuter student who lives further than a block away from campus, a car has been more essential to my average school day than a pencil. Commuting without a car is impossible, and without a car or bike you are stranded on campus, right? My first-world-overly-privileged self thought so, too.
I have been blessed to have a car during school, but many students do not have a car and cannot always hitch a ride from someone else – this is exactly what keeps the River Valley Metro in operation.
“River Valley Metro is the most economical way to get around town – for $1 each way you can get where you need to be, or purchase one of our monthly passes. Full fare passes are $30, with student, disabled and elderly passes less than that. Your transportation around the area is $1/day at the most,” according to River Valley Metro’s website.
With the use of a student ID, a monthly full fare pass can be purchased for $20. Passes can be purchased at multiple locations including the River Valley Metro Centre near the Bourbonnais Wal-Mart, Kankakee Community College, or the two Kankakee Walgreens locations on East Court Street and North Kennedy Drive, according to the River Valley Metro website.
“I use [the bus] mostly to get to Chicago so I can catch a train or a plane,” Olivet junior Ian Lopshire said. “There is a bus that goes between the Metro Centre by Walmart to the University Park Metra train. I usually try to get a ride to the Metro Centre, but there is a bus that goes between Olivet and there. I’ve taken [the bus] a couple times. It really isn’t too bad.”
While Lopshire said riding the bus “works in a pinch,” he admitted that he would not use the bus for regular transportation.
“[The bus] also doesn’t run very late at night, so that can be troublesome,” he said. “The best bet, if you don’t have a car, is to catch a ride with someone who is already going out.”
Catching a ride with another student who drives is not always an option, Olivet junior Tasha Hojnicki pointed out. During her first semester living at Olivet, Hojnicki did not have a car, nor did her roommate – leaving the bus as a more practical option at times.
“I probably rode the bus ten times,” Hojnicki said. “It’s just a dollar to get around town from [Olivet].” While Lopshire preferred hitching a ride, Hojnicki described her Metro experience as enjoyable.
She laughed, recalling a drawback to the bus system, “I got on the wrong bus once, and the last stop wasn’t Olivet. It was okay because I just waited for the right bus, thinking [to myself] ‘I should’ve asked!’ Make sure you ask if the bus is stopping where you want to go or double check their schedule. [The drivers] are there to answer questions, but it’s good to have an idea before you get on [the bus],” Hojnicki said.
Hojnicki also noted that it takes significantly longer to get to a destination by bus.
“It took me four hours to get to University Park from here [Bourbonnais] before,” she said. “You have to wait while the bus makes other stops on the way there, too.”
The bus schedule can be found at rivervalleymetro.com under the tab on their home page titled “Schedules & Maps.” Routes 10 and 11 show the schedules and maps for the Bourbonnais area.
For students who have a car, the bus can be a means of gas conservation. To save gas for a day, I rode the metro through town. What would have been at least $6 worth of gas in my car that gets roughly 23 miles per gallon, a day around town on the bus only cost me one dollar. If I were to leave my car in the driveway and instead use the bus twice a day, three times a week, I would be saving about $12 weekly on gas – about a quarter of my gas tank.For those who drive a vehicle with poor gas mileage, riding the bus instead could mean saving hundreds of dollars per semester. As a college student, hundreds of dollars saved during the semester is a miracle. During my day riding the River Valley Metro, I realized that the bus has advantages for everyone, including my first-world-overly-privileged self.