September 28, 2020

BY JACK PARKINSON

There is a problem around Conestoga College. Not with the campus itself, or with the student body, or with the administration.

The problem lies with the buses serving Conestoga, which is all the worse because the buses are out of the school’s control. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, so first, let’s see what the problem actually is.

To put it simply, the bus service at Conestoga is not good enough. Grand River Transit often has trouble accommodating the number of students who have to use the buses for transit in the afternoons and evenings. The morning commute is tolerable, as many students live different distances away from the Doon campus and can board different buses along the same route.

Trying to get a spot on a bus in the afternoon is far more difficult than it needs to be. If you walk out Door 3 any day of the week between 3:30 and 5 p.m., you’ll find the stop packed with students. When a bus comes down the road, specifically Route 10 or 110, dozens of students will board. Space is often standing room only and these conditions will not improve with the winter.

A lot of people attend Conestoga, thousands at the Doon campus alone. Students who live farther away from campus than Fairview Mall will need to take Route 10 or 110 buses twice a day every day they have classes at Doon. On a good day, Route 10 takes about 30 minutes and Route 110 about half that.

But if the buses are overloaded with students (and, in the case of the 10, must stop often), the trip takes longer. This should not be the norm.

There is a second side to the problem: money.

The Kitchener-Waterloo area is home to a number of post-secondary institutions. At Wilfrid Laurier University or University of Waterloo, a student’s student card functions as a bus pass. The cost for a bus pass for a semester is heavily discounted (less than $100) and included in the tuition.

At Conestoga it is different. There is a discounted pass available for Conestoga students but it costs $218, more than twice the price of a university pass.

Last year during the Conestoga Students Inc. board of directors elections, the outgoing and incoming CSI presidents spoke to a journalism class about their positions and the experience they had. One of them mentioned he had been talking to GRT about a more discounted bus pass for Conestoga and was making progress, until one day when GRT suddenly ended the negotiations and stopped returning the president’s calls.

There is no conspiracy against Conestoga or its students. But there is an overworked, overpriced bus system which will only be more stressed come winter. Conestoga students deserve better.

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