Editorial: LCT Reform Badly Needed
Whenever Oberlin’s academic calendar shows that a vacation is coming up, the excitement is palpable – that is, until the time comes to go catch a bus to the Cleveland airport on Lorain County Transit’s Route 33.
As veterans of this public transportation experience can attest, dealing with LCT during peak travel days is a long, grueling process. The packed-to-capacity buses run with unpredictable frequency, even during heavy travel times. To guarantee that students make their flights, students need to get a seat on the LCT. To get a seat on the bus, students line up as early as one hour before their LCT of choice is scheduled to arrive. When the bus pulls up to the curb, students abandon all semblance of a line; as the fear of missing one’s flight sets in, it is everyone for him or herself.
These deficiencies in the LCT system require immediate attention. For the many students without access to cars or the financial means to hire a car or taxi, the LCT is the only option. The problems with the LCT are not unknown. The self-appointed, student-run Oberlin College Transit Committee has consistently advocated for improvements on Route 33 on behalf of the student body. When LCT announced its plans to cut the number of buses running along Route 33, the group arranged for a larger number of buses to operate on peak travel days at higher frequencies. With each dramatic overhaul that befell LCT over the past year and a half, OCTC was ready to inform and educate students—and lobby on their behalf.
One must wonder, however, why this burden is falling only on students. The College has orchestrated an agreement with LCT under which the College uses $8 of each student’s activity fee to negotiate a lower per-ride fare for Oberlin students. Despite this contract, the price of taking the LCT has gone up; meanwhile, the quality of LCT service has remained sub-par. And the College is apparently not doing anything about it.
To be fair, Oberlin students are not the only ones who experience transportation difficulties during break. Many colleges, including Carleton and Williams, have implemented College- or student-run shuttles. These shuttles often take reservations, eliminating over-crowding problems and ensuring that students will not miss their flights. Such a program at Oberlin would be welcome, though admittedly time-consuming and tedious to create.
Nonetheless, if admissions representatives claim that Cleveland is just a quick and easy bus ride away, the College ought to do what it can to substantiate this claim. Whenever possible, including future contract negotiations with LCT, the College should lobby on students’ behalf and demand a frequency and quality of service that fulfills student need.
OCTC has been a tireless advocate of LCT reform, and continues to produce fresh ideas and earnest communication. Expecting this committee to solve all of these problems, though, is unrealistic and unduly burdensome. The College should stand behind OCTC and use its financial influence to compel LCT to provide better service. If that fails, perhaps administrators should consider seeking out alternative solutions.
After all, the College is here to provide a service to its students; few services would be more appreciated than making sure its students get home in time to cut the turkey (or tofurkey, as the case may be).