With Sacramento area gas prices averaging $3.75 a gallon, many American River College students have turned to public transportation to get to and from classes.
Usually, catching a ride on the Sacramento Regional Transit costs $2.50 per ride, or $6 for a daily pass and $100 for a monthly pass. However, full-time ARC students who qualify for the BOG waiver pay $7.50 a semester, and those taking less than 6 units pay $2.50. Without the BOG waiver, the prices are doubled. Once registration fees are paid, students will receive their Universal Transit Pass (UTP) sticker on their student access card for the semester. The stickers are valid for the fall and spring semesters only.
“The sticker system we have is very effective,” said Manuel Perez, dean of student development. This allows students unlimited rides on the bus as well as the light rail.
“The (access) card is a great benefit,” said Angela Williams, an early childhood education major. “I don’t have to worry about gas.” This alternate mode of transportation is recognized as a financially prudent choice. Additionally, students who take the bus do not have to be concerned with making insurance payments or purchasing parking permits.
Taking the RT also eliminates the burden of hunting down a parking spot in ARC’s crowded lots. “From the looks of parking,” said Dario Cole, a general education student, as he gazed out towards the sea of cars. “I prefer to take the bus.”
However, students have conceded that time is a factor when relying on public transportation. Not only did passengers have to wait to board the bus, but reaching the point of destination may also take some time. For some, it’s a “major hardship to juggle and find time to take the bus,” said Stephen Peithman, public information officer of community relations. “The further they have to come, the longer the process.” Frequent stops along the route increase the duration of a trip, which makes it a necessity to understand bus routes and plan ahead.
According to Cody Covington, a general education student, “It’s a pain (and) it’s crowded sometimes, especially in the morning.”
These obstacles are further exacerbated by a recent reduction of services due to state funding. As of June 2010, Routes 9 (Carmichael-Walnut Avenue) and 10 (Carmichael-Dewey Drive) were eliminated completely, as well as evening bus services along the two key routes to ARC, Route 1 (Greenback) and 85 (Howe-65th-Florin). With pick-ups available only until 9:27 p.m., many students with classes ending after 9:30 p.m. have been left without the option of taking the bus home altogether.
ARC President David Viar has forwarded concerns, addressed by Peithman, to Sacramento RT, asking them to extend their service hours to accommodate the needs of these ARC students. Elaine Masui, public relations officer for Sacramento RT did not respond to multiple interview requests.
For those who prefer to drive and exercise that patience in the parking lots, rest assured, ARC’s parking garage will be up and ready to be filled by 2014. Until then, Williams has some advice for students riding the bus, “You have to have patience.”