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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Modes of transport vary with students

It’s the first day of college.

Students have already planned their classes, their living arrangements, and finances. Only today do they realize they have no clue on how to get to school.

There are several modes of transportation to school: car, bus, drop-off, and walking. Pierce offers students the ability to choose from any of these, just with varying levels of convenience.

Rebecca Murphy, 20, has been attending Pierce for three semesters. She has to take both a bus and the Metro Orange Line to get from her house to Pierce College four days a week.

This is a considerably larger load on any student, but more so for Murphy because she has been reliant on the bus system for both school and work for the last two semesters she attended Pierce.

Pierce has four Metro lines connected to it, three of which are the regular Metro bus system, the last of which is the Metro Orange Line. The four lines allow students to come from several directions without transportation issues.

Murphy leaves her home in Granada Hills and takes the Metro bus down to Balboa, where she then switches to the Orange Line.

On the bus ride from her house to the Orange Line, the bus was a little over half full, which wasn’t crowded in comparison to some other days Murphy has ridden.

“It can get really crowded on this bus, especially with the little kids going to school,” Murphy said.

Each bus or rail charges $1.50 for each one-way trip.

“[I] pay $1.50 to get on a bus, another $1.50 to change to another bus, and then [I] do that again to get home. That’s $6 a day, which is a lot of money over a week,” Murphy said.

Murphy also said that not all Metro lines charge the same amount.

“The Commuter buses charge $2.50, so if you don’t have a TAP (Transit Access Pass) card you’re going to be paying a lot to get to wherever you are going,” Murphy said.

The TAP card allows Metro customers to load money onto a card to pay for fares, or purchase unlimited rides for a day, a week, or a month at a flat rate.

Metro offers a reduced fare TAP card for students, but it must be requested by mail. It allows holders to then purchase a 30-day pass for $36, about half of the $75 for a 30-day pass on a regular TAP card.

“I sit and watch people dump money into the [fare box], and am glad I have a TAP card,” Murphy said.

Murphy has concerns over the safety of the Metro lines, something she feels strongly about.

“The regular Metro buses should have seatbelts for the regular customers, not just the wheelchairs. If the bus crashes, us regular people are going to go flying across the bus. The Orange Line should also be one bus, not two pieces with a metal curtain over the joint. It’s just not safe,” Murphy said. If, unfortunately, the bus were to crash, the passengers on said bus would more than likely be able to contact various car accident lawyers to see if they are able to build a case against the bus company or driver.

Edgar Quiroz, 19, also rides the Metro Orange Line. He has used the Orange Line for all three semesters he has been attending Pierce, and had relied on it before he even came to Pierce.

Quiroz likes the Orange Line because it helps him save money on gas, but it doesn’t have service on the weekends when he needs it.

“The frequency of the bus is the only problem I have with it. There are plenty of buses during the week when I’m at school, but there aren’t any on the weekends,” Quiroz said.

Of course, the Orange Line is only one of the four lines to Pierce. The De Soto Avenue, Victory Boulevard, and Winnetka Avenue lines also have their fair share of student traffic.

Aaron Montgomery, a 30-year veteran with Metro, is one of the drivers on the Victory line. He only passes the school every three hours, but notices a spike in students during his route.

“The most students I have on the bus is around 12:30 [p.m.], and even then there are only about 20 students who get on when I’m heading [toward Burbank],” Montgomery said.

The Metro lines are the second most popular transit method to Pierce, the first being driving to Pierce in a personal car.

José Gonzalez, 20, has attended Pierce for two semesters and has driven to Pierce for both semesters. Leaving his house around 7:20 a.m., he drives on the freeway from Burbank to Pierce, about a 20- to 35-minute trip depending on traffic.

He does not enjoy traffic or the expense of gas, but still loves being able to drive to Pierce.

“I can leave when I want. If a class cancels I can sit in my car and wait for my next class,” Gonzalez said.

Another method students use is getting dropped off at Pierce by someone.

As Kimberly Vega, 20, sits at the pick-up zone waiting for her dad, she explains why she enjoys using this method of transportation for her first semester at Pierce.

Vega finds the only problem with this method is waiting for the person to show up. However, Vega said, it’s much easier and cheaper than driving to Pierce.

“I have to come [to school] earlier to find parking. [Getting picked-up is] less of a hassle,” Vega said.

The least popular method of transportation to Pierce is walking. Angelica Carter, 20, has attended Pierce for four semesters. During her first semester, she lived on Sherman Way and Mason Avenue, close enough to walk to Pierce, saving money she was able to spend on other things.

“It was a lot of exercise. [The walk} took fifteen minutes from [my house] to Pierce,” Carter said.

Although the walking was refreshing, poor weather conditions would make the trip miserable, something Carter hopes she won’t have to do again anytime soon.

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