Guest Column: PARTA means more than just a ride down the block

Bruce Walton

I know PARTA gets a bad rep. sometimes just because it’s too slow or there aren’t enough buses to go around, but I know that a lot of people in Kent, including me, rely on those buses to get us where we need to go. For many different reasons, some financial and others personal, I do not drive or have a car on campus. But if I need to get somewhere, like visiting my girlfriend in Mayfield, or even just seeing some friends from back home, how am I supposed to get there? That’s where PARTA comes in. Because of their weekday downtown express, I’m able to take these 6 a.m. or 4 p.m. rides to Tower City and Cleveland State University, then take the RTA back home the rest of the way.

When I’m waiting for the bus to come, I see a lot of faces: some black, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian, some gripping their children tightly, making sure they don’t run off as they try to make their commute back and forth from Cleveland to Kent State.

Others, with warm coats and suitcases by their sides, are probably planning to go home for the weekend.

Some of them have small backpacks and purses to go downtown for a fun night.

We all have different stories, different backgrounds, and different reasons why we’re going downtown, but we’re all going to the same place. That wouldn’t be possible without PARTA.

PARTA’s campus bus drivers are students like us, no different in any way and they understand that we need them and their services.

When it was voting day in November, it was my first year being 18 and eligible to vote.

I had screwed up on my voting envelope to cast my absentee ballot for Cuyahoga County. The only way I could make my vote count was to go down to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on voting day.

I had no car and asked every one of my friends (who had a car) if they could take me. Each one declined, however, because they were all busy.

I was at a loss until I thought to use PARTA.

They had a 6 a.m. bus scheduled so I didn’t miss my first class of the day at 11 a.m. So I got up early as hell, went outside, walked down to the bus stop in front of the student center and waited for the bus to come, which it did.

If it wasn’t for that bus I would not have been able to vote “no” on Issue 2 and make my vote count.

During this national economic depression, there have been major cutbacks for a lot of families, especially in transportation.

For some, it’s waiting a little longer to buy that new car; for others, it’s deciding to sell the car they already own.

Taking the bus saves money on gas, and if you don’t even have a car of your own, it’s a great way to get around.

So sure, PARTA doesn’t text you when it’s getting near your stop or have an app with a GPS to let you know where your bus is at all times, but you can bet your ass that rain, sleet or snow, they are going to be there, one way or another.

Bruce Walton is a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].