COLUMN: The monetary drawbacks of making it home for holidays

In a world where the “poor college student” life has become a reality, prices of mass transportation should be the least of our worries.

Sofi Zeman is a first year Journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about politics and government

Of the 30,046 MU students enrolled this fall, thousands are from a state in the U.S. outside Missouri. Many students begin college semi-dependent on their parents or guardians for clothes, finance and other necessities. Because of this, being out of state can be difficult, especially when trying to make it back home. After going through the experience myself, I’ve concluded that the price students have to pay for mass transit does not meet its worth.

The highest number of out-of-state students currently enrolled at MU are from Illinois. Though only a state away, 4,163 students have to figure out how to make it back to the Prairie State for the holidays. With the way mass transportation is structured, out of state college students typically spend more money than in-state students to make it home for the holidays.

Most people traveling a far distance opt to fly, drive or take a bus. While airfare is an obviously expensive route, the other two choices aren’t as cheap as they’re hyped up to be. With the exception of having to pay for gas money, driving seems like the most financially conservative option. In reality, this isn’t necessarily true. Yes, driving doesn’t catastrophically hurt a person’s wallet during a trip out of state. However, the biggest expense in this situation comes from having a car at school. MU students are required to pay for a parking permit in order to have their car on campus during the school year. The average price for a parking permit in Columbia falls around $150 for one year. While this payment isn’t directly related to driving back home, some students have to pay hundreds of dollars each year just to have the option to do so. Because of this, students often resort to using public transportation in order to avoid paying for these passes. Unfortunately, this doesn’t save much money at all.

Long distance bus fares are no better than driving. After taking a Greyhound bus from Columbia to central Illinois, I learned that a round trip can cost well over $100, depending on the choice of destination. It’s also important to note that as a young person traveling a long distance on their own is by no means the safest course of action. In my experience alone, there were moments of discomfort, hours of delays, layovers and technical difficulties with the heating system that ultimately forced some families to get off the bus mid-trip. A close friend was even pick-pocketed while sleeping on a separate Greyhound trip to Arkansas during the same weekend. Traveling in these conditions simply does not live up to the cost of high travel prices.

Many college students don’t have the money to not be concerned about paying for long distance travel. With similarly high prices for nearly every transit option, some students will likely have issues dealing with transportation back home over the nearing holidays.

It’s for this reason that many MU students, as well as locals, are left with few affordable transportation options in this area. Across the state and country, improvements need to be made in mass transportation. A major change needs to be made in either the price or quality of traveling long distances. We live in a world where people should not be afraid to take the bus home.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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