Cash-strapped NMU students often spend mornings debating whether to ride their bikes to school or scrape gas money from in between their couch cushions. And with winter fast approaching, the bicycle may no longer be an option.
Those same distressed students might be surprised to find that a free and easy travel alternative exists.
The Marquette Transit Authority (Marq-Tran) bus line, which provides service to Marquette from as far away as Gwinn and Ishpeming, opens its doors for free to anyone who has a valid NMU student ID.
In a time of ever-rising tuition and economic turmoil, college students are constantly trying to find ways to stretch their dollars, and such a service offers a simple substitute to shelling out $4 per gallon of gasoline just to get to class.
The average car gets 21 miles to the gallon, according to a June 26 USA Today article. Using this figure, along with current gas prices, students making the 14-mile commute from Ishpeming five days a week will spend about $900 per academic year on gas.
This academic year alone, NMU put more than $133,000 into a contract to guarantee students, faculty and staff free rides on Marq-Tran buses. The fact that Northern is willing to invest that kind of money into public transportation demonstrates the university’s commitment to both environmentally friendly practices and student service.
From an environmental standpoint, public transportation provides a clear edge over driving a personal vehicle. The American Public Transportation Association estimates that public transit can reduce CO2 emissions by 37 million metric tons annually – that’s enough CO2 to fill more than 20 Superior Domes. Public transportation can also reduce energy consumption by the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year, according to the same report.
And though emissions cut by Marquette area bus customers will be just a drop in the bucket, every little bit helps.
Marq-Tran buses run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and there are plenty of different routes to choose from. The Marquette South line arrives at Econo Foods at 25 minutes after the hour for anyone in need of groceries. The Marquette Shopper line runs all the way from ShopKo to Target and stops at many other places along the way, while the Marquette North line can drop you off outside the University Center.
So go ahead and pull your head out from under your furniture for a change. Check out Marq-Tran’s Web site, www.marq-tran.com.
There’s probably a bus route near you.