This weekend, Ursinus students can take advantage of three pre-planned bus trips through the Student Activities office. The school often offers such programs on weekends, which vary in location, timing, and cost from week to week.
These trips are multiple-hour affairs, meaning students have to be willing to commit a significant portion of their weekend if they want to take advantage of the break from campus.
But outside of these pre-planned weekend trips—ergo, on weekdays, or to any but these select locations—Ursinus students without access to a car or the spare money for Lyft or Uber trips can find it difficult to make it off campus.
Access to local destinations like Target and Providence Town Center is limited, to say nothing of farther-off locations like Philadelphia. Both Target and Providence Town Center are about a one-hour walk from campus, rendered practically impassable by short but significant stretches where the hopeful pedestrian would have to walk along the edge of the open road.
There is local public transit, but not much: the only SEPTA line which passes campus comes once an hour on average, and it takes roughly 25 to 30 minutes to get to the Norristown Transportation Center. From Norristown it’s possible to reach a greater variety of locations via Regional Rail and the NHSL.
Unless they’re conveniently situated along the 93’s limited route, other local destinations are not always reachable by bus. In fact, the shortest bus route to Providence Town Center would actually take longer than walking there, by a significant margin. The difficulties outlined above can lead to a frustrating sense of being trapped on or near campus if you don’t drive. Occasional shuttle buses to nearby but difficult-to-access locations might help to alleviate this sense of distance.
I also can’t help but wonder how convenient a shuttle bus system – either college-subsidized, or covered by a nominal fee – might prove for certain Ursinus employees, some of whom commute to work using the previously-detailed public transit system.
It would obviously be impractical to create even an occasional bus route without the framework and expertise required, to say nothing of the lack of data on student interest. As a stopgap measure, or even a less stressful alternative, it might be nice if the Student Activities office surveyed the student body for interest in potential locations before choosing and scheduling weekend trips. Overall, I believe basically anything would constitute a substantial improvement over the current policy of sporadic, seemingly randomly decided outings.