Students, Like Birds, Can Now Escape Oberlin
By Chris Morocco

Ailing freshmen and landlocked Obies rejoice: the Lorain County Transit system is coming to a curb near you. While for many Oberlin students the term “public transportation” might conjure up images of clinging desperately to the luggage rack of a campus cruiser being pedaled wildly across Tappan, some have found that LCT is a free and easy way to get around.
Launched in 1974, the LCT operates 31 vehicles on 14 routes that stretch throughout Lorain County. This year, LCT Mobility Manager Charity Perkins projected that LCT would provide 500,000 trips, double last year’s number, to riders of all ages, “from college students to renal patients,” she mused.
Today, LCT is free to any ID-carrying Oberlin student, following the launch of the “O-pass,” an Ohio PIRG program aiming to make LCT more attractive and accessible to students.
Last year, students voted to add a $7 per semester fee to their tuition in order to provide LCT with capital for enhanced services, such as extended evening and weekend service, as well as the new express route to the Cleveland-Hopkins airport.
Perkins was exuberant in her description of the new services available to Oberlin students.
“There is a great need for students to get back and forth to the airport, so this is a win-win situation for everybody,” she said. “It sets a great precedent for future collaboration between LCT and other organizations.”
An informal survey revealed that only a handful of students had ever used LCT, but that a growing number are seeing the advantages of taking LCT, rather than the Cleveland-Hopkins shuttle service to the airport. One student recounted that at the onset of fall break, LCT was forced to add additional buses to service all of the students going to the airport via LCT’s Route 33.
This is likely to be the most popular route for Oberlin students, as it takes them directly to the airport for much less than the $12-plus-gratuity Hopkins shuttle service that leaves from the Oberlin Inn.
One College first-year recounted his LCT ride to the airport for fall break.
“Yo, it was chill. I got on the bus and found this girl I knew and just fell asleep in her lap,” he said.
The airport is not the end of the road for Obies looking for an escape, however.
The two routes that go through Oberlin connect to other service lines that stretch all the way to Lake Erie. The destination closest to Oberlin is Wellington, less than 20 minutes away on LCT, featuring relaxed liquor laws and an entire “party” section in Geyer’s Foods.
Other than the airport and Cleveland connections, the most popular destination for Oberlin students is Elyria’s Midway Mall, where Obies can eat in a food court, buy things like everybody else, and forget about their promises to change the world. College senior Lucy Roche giddily recounted her first Midway experience, as a shell-shocked freshman in need of cultural release.
“It was a real moment of glory as a freshman to go to the mall. It seems silly because I now have a car and can go whenever I want. Back then it was triumphant, we were pathetically on top of the world for the time that the excursion lasted,” she gushed.
Roche’s words hint at a thorn in the side of Oberlin’s rhetoric of social and environmental responsibility, manifested in the widespread use of cars among students and faculty. To drive or not to drive is a constant consideration particularly for students who live off campus and have immediate access to their cars.
One College junior was unapologetic in defending the daily use of her car. “I will definitely use LCT the next time I go to the airport, but otherwise I like the comfort of my car,” she said.
LCT aims to do for Lorain County what the Bike Co-op has done for Oberlin, providing incentives for people to use alternative means of transportation and reducing reliance on cars. Ohio PIRG and LCT have gambled that students will see that they are paying for LCT’s services and put themselves where their money is.
LCT’s Oberlin stop is located in front of Rax on East College Street.

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