Students getting on the Arcata-Mad River Transit with their JackPass. | Photo by Alexandria Hasenstab

No car, no problem


HSU’s JackPass offers students unlimited city bus access

By Alexandria Hasenstab

Humboldt State student Miami Liscano was having an enjoyable spring break until their car broke down. They knew they would need to find a new means of transportation. Luckily, Liscano already knew about the JackPass, a program that allows students access to the city buses with just a swipe of their student I.D. card.

“I used to use the bus a lot my freshman year,” Liscano said. “If I didn’t have the bus, I would have never left campus.”

An Arcata-Mad River Transit bus driving down H Street. | Photo by Robert Perez

Liscano is now a sophomore and, like many other students, takes the bus due to a lack of a personal vehicle. But JackPass is not only for students without cars. It’s an effort to reduce the number of students who drive to school as well as reducing HSU’s carbon footprint.

According to the 2016-2017 catalog, the JackPass offers students unlimited free rides on the Arcata & Mad River Transit System, the Redwood Transit System, and the Eureka Transit System. This means students can take the bus all the way from Scotia to Trinidad and even to Willow Creek for a day at the river.

However, the JackPass is not free. Every student pays for it whether they use the bus or not. A portion of HSU registration fees, amounting to $29.02 a semester, is used to fund the JackPass according to Humboldt State’s financial services webpage.

For students who live out of town like senior Noah Dunkley, the JackPass is a necessity.  

“I totally agree it’s worth paying for the bus pass in our tuition,” Dunkley said.

Dunkley lives in Eureka. In order to get to school and back home he has to take the Redwood Transit System. A monthly pass for the RTS is $60 according to their website. This means that a student would pay twice as much for a one-month RTS pass as they do for a 5-month JackPass.

Charles Burdick is the public transit manager for the Arcata-Mad River Transit. According to Burdick, over 70 percent of bus riders for the Arcata-Mad River Transit are HSU students. He believes that the JackPass is beneficial because it lessens the number of students parking on campus and increases the use of the city bus.

“There’s a lack of parking there [at HSU],” Burdick said. “They would rather students not take their cars to campus.”

Humboldt State has been notorious for inadequate parking spaces. According to HSU’s parking and commuter services website, a parking pass for the fall and spring semesters is $315. The parking pass does not ensure students will find a spot.

JackPass is a great deal for HSU students, but students who use the local transit do experience some flaws.

“The bus will come either really late or really early,” Liscano said.

To avoid missing the bus Liscano uses an app called Transit that offers accurate, real-time predictions for public transit arrival times.

Dunkley has also experience some flaws on the RTS including sagging bus seats and fights breaking out on the bus, but he feels like these flaws are ignorable.

“Overall it’s a pleasant experience,” Dunkley said. 

Graphic by Kelly Bessem

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