Some stranded, others seek rides

Britt Johnsen

Senior Anna Bowman is upset about the transit strike.

“It honestly disgusts me to think about how many people were dependent on the buses,” she said. “It irks me that it had to come to this.”

Bowman is one of many students affected by the transit strike that began March 4.

The transit worker strike affects 220,000 weekday bus riders. Of those, 72,600 do not have cars and 14,000 are University students with U-Pass cards. Those who depend on the bus are left to find other travel options.

Bowman is one student who regularly relied on the bus. She said she not only worries about the strike’s impact on others but also on her own safety.

In order to pay for rent and tuition, she works in Minneapolis at The Lounge. Her shifts usually last until 3 a.m.

“It’s not a time to be downtown,” she said.

Because of the strike, Bowman depends on friends to give her rides, but this weekend they will be out of town. She said she is unsure about what she’s going to do to “survive.”

“It’ll be interesting,” she said.

Without a bus to get around, Bowman said she now uses her free time differently.

“It was advertised to me that you don’t need a car if you live in the campus area,” she said, looking back on life when she first came to the University. “Now I don’t go out anymore. It took away my independence.”

Alicia Struble said the strike has also affected her independence. The University junior lives on Snelling and University avenues in St. Paul, works in Minneapolis and has class in St. Paul.

“I guess I’m just really frustrated by my inability to lead life like I normally do,” she said. “It’s hard to get around.”

On a normal day she said she depends on friends and family for rides.

“They’re kind of getting tired of it,” she said. “If this goes on for a month or so I have absolutely no idea what they’re going to do.”

Last week, Struble skipped class because it would have taken her an hour to walk to her St. Paul class from her off-campus house.

Struble said she is getting along, but is “definitely more stressed.” With projects and

papers due this week, she said she can be found drinking chai tea or reading a book to gain

focus.

But, she said, she is utterly dependent on friends and family for transportation.

“I’m pretty much stranded,” she said.

Junior Jessica Haas said she is not stranded, but life has been quite difficult.

“Anything that I do I tend to use the buses for,” she said.

Although the bus strike inconveniences her, she said she still must go to her job in Uptown at the store Heartbreaker. She is also taking 18 credits.

“I’m not using it as an excuse to miss anything, even with the snow and the cold,” she said. “I don’t have the option of missing things because I can’t afford to.”

Haas said that during the snowstorm earlier this week, she risked her life by biking from her Seward neighborhood residence to her job and her classes.

“At every light I hit I slipped,” she said.

No matter the inconvenience, though, she said she still backs what the strikers are fighting for.

“I’m totally supporting the strike,” she said.

University student James Knowland said he is neither for nor against the strike and will deal with the inconveniences without complaint.

“I can tough it out for now,” he said about missing classes when the weather is bad and giving his friends rides.

Metropolitan Council, which oversees Metro Transit, and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, which represents 2,150 transit workers, cannot reach a contract agreement. The issues revolve around wages and health care.

Both parties said they will not budge. Union officials said Wednesday afternoon that no new talks have been scheduled.

In the meantime, students will continue coping.

Junior Jessica Snively said though she is managing, she is tired of the inconveniences.

“I understand where they’re coming from,” Snively said. “But I’d like for them to make some negotiations soon.”