Bus Tokens vs. Bus Passes: Should Students have Alternative Ways to Get to Housatonic?

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Published on October 22, 2014

HCC students may not be aware that Housatonic offers bus tokens each semester to its students. The cost is $1.75 each. Students who apply have to meet a certain scheduling and distance criteria in order to receive the tokens. Applications are available at the Dean of Students office. Qualified students receive their tokens in a two to three week period.

The criteria is based upon the number of days you travel to school and your individual class schedule. For example, a student has two classes on Monday and Wednesday then they would receive 20 tokens for the semester.

Why doesn’t HCC pay for an entire semester’s worth of bus tokens or give qualified students passes?

Dean of Students Dr. Avis Hendrickson was asked for her viewpoint on this matter,“We would have to do more research on this topic to see if it would be beneficial for the student body. How We are able offer bus tokens  to students because HCC was given a special grant that pays for them,” she said.

But what if a student needed more for the remaining semester if  they attending school more than two days a week? Or, perhaps its Finals time and you want to study with a bunch of your classmates, and you can’t afford to take public transportation. It’s true you could easily get a ride from one of your friends, but, perhaps everyone is too busy to offer you a ride. What do you do then? How would you get to school?

Anna Cruz, administrative assistant in the Dean of Students office, offered her opinion on this subject. “Although HCC has an Emergency Bus Transportation Program, it is meant to address temporary emergency needs only, not long-term transportation issues.  This seems to be a great concern for students who apply to the ‘Emergency Bus Token Program’ because they are unemployed and do not have a vehicle to travel back and forth to school.  If they apply and are eligible, they may receive up to twenty (20) tokens only per academic year,” she said.

David King, a former student of HCC, has a bus pass that is activated all year around; from August to August of the following year. Why doesn’t HCC do this? The reasons are plenty. It would be much easier than paying $1.50 for a 90 minute transfer each way. But once the public bus crosses the bridge coming from either Milford or Stratford, to go back they charge you $1.75.

Cruz said, “Earlier discussions between HCC and the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority regarding  bus passes for students in need has resulted in HCC having to purchase a huge amount of bus passes in order  to get the discounted price.  Therefore, the purchase of bus tokens remains the same at the regular price, which is $70.00 per month versus a one way bus token at $1.75 each.”

Bus tokens can be a little pricey if you’re going to school more than one day a week. Perhaps one idea for the readers of Horizons might be to gather signatures on a  petition and get HCC to fund some of our commuting throughout the year.

Some HCC students voiced their opinions on this matter. Matt Cuifo  said, “A bus pass is more affordable especially if you have a job. One day price for unlimited rides for 30 days.” You can easily go down to the corner store and pick up a bus pass for $35-40 dollars

Another HCC student, Kevin Gustave  said, “The bus pass is better than a bus token, because the bus pass is reusable and tokens are one time use only.”

Some  staff members weighed in on this subject as well. Lynne Langella of the Disability Resource Center said, “I don’t agree with a bus pass because there is only so much that HCC can do as a college. HCC can’t pay for everyone’s transportation back and forth to school.”

HCC is a community college, so it’s natural that most of the student population has to commute to school, either by bus or train. The college should give more of a helping hand then just bus tokens. Even though passes cost more, they might to helpful for students in the long run.
There are those who  think the money that HCC students use for bus fare could go to something more affordable. Michelle Reed, Director of the Occupational Therapy Program, said, “We are a community college and in order for Housatonic to give  students the great bargain in education, we  cut a lot of frills that  might be paid for by students at private colleges because they pay much higher tuitions. Often shuttle services are available on much larger campuses  those students are in place where they live on campus and have no other means to get to town. Since   all our students live  in the community I don’t think bus tokens or a shuttle service are the best  use of  the students’ money.”

The Kennedy Center in Trumbull has a travel training department that specializes in helping people with transportation. Mark Primavera, an employee there, also gave his point of view on this matter, “Bus passes are under time constraints, tokens are one token ,one trip, so they are very different. One is unlimited  and the other is based a single trip basis.It might be cheaper for them to get tokens on trip by trip basis.”

All in all, it’s for you to decide whether or not to get a bus pass or simply use tokens. Maybe the students here at HCC could start a petition to get bus passes for those students that live in the valley area. The choice is yours.