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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Public transportation a resource

Gas prices were ridiculous long before I went to Europe to study abroad for two weeks. But when I returned, they had climbed to over four dollars a gallon. I was completely shocked.

During those two weeks, I spent nine days in Paris riding the Metro and not worrying about how I would afford to fill up my gas tank. I couldn’t help but marvel at the ease of using public transportation. During peak hours, the trains would come every two minutes and all I had to do was step on and then step off. There was no worrying about red lights, road construction or the inattentiveness of other drivers. I didn’t even have to be alert or pay attention to the road.

By the second day, I had fiured out how to navigate the system and was feeling like a pro. While riding, I calculated the costs of driving my car. There was the actual price of buying the car, gas, car insurance, oil changes, maintenance and my commuter parking pass, not to mention the transmission that had to be replaced last winter. All those things combined are costing my parents and I a pretty penny. The cost of riding the Metro, even if I were to buy a year-long pass, would not come anywhere close to the amount being spent just so I could drive a car.

I also began to consider the environmental impact of driving my car, or any car for that matter. The whole thing became very depressing to me

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As I was pondering, I would look around me at all the Parisians riding the train. There were all types and classes of people. Everyone was utilizing public transportation there, regardless of social standing. Everyone, from a shoeless bum to a man in a three-piece plaid business suit to kids no older than eight on their way to school, were riding the train. It seems that in the United States, there is a stigma associated with using public transportation. We live in a culture that stresses the importance and necessity of owning your own car. I felt that even the Parisian upper crust would ride the subway, the same kind of people in America wouldn’t be caught dead using public transit.

But of course, riding the Metro wasn’t perfect all the time. I saw a homeless man push a woman out of her seat. Sometimes the train cars were so packed that breathing was almost impossible and you had to shove your way out of the door at your stop. My toes were run over by mothers with strollers and beggars often approached me in the station. But I felt like all of those things were very small sacrifices in comparison to the amount of money I was sacrificing in order to drive my car.

Obviously, the UP isn’t anything like Paris, but public transit does exist. The Wildcat Shuttle, which is free, runs on campus during fall and winter semesters and will get you between the main campus areas, the Superior Dome and the Jacobetti Center. Marq-Tran, run by Marquette County, which also offers free rides to students, has various fixed routes and also offers door-to-door service. The Marq-Tran service area also includes Ishpeming, Gwinn and Negaunee.

I can honestly say that I have never used either of these services. Nor have I actually ever considered it. I’ve always relied on my car, or someone else’s car to get me where I needed to go. For a long time, the high cost of gas was just a necessary evil, something I had to deal with. But from the moment I stepped on the Paris Metro, I realized that maybe gas prices were something I didn’t have to deal with and that public transit just plain makes sense.

I’m not planning to go so far as to sell my car and give up driving all together. But in a city Marquette’s size, I’m beginning to think that there could be a better solution for my transportation woes. So that being said, I think I’m in the market for a bike.

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