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Commuting presents difficulties for Hancock students

A masters of chemistry student leaves his apartment in the predawn darkness, fastening his coat tight around his neck as he prepares for the two mile bike ride to MTU’s campus through the cold rain. His brakes are worn from hard braking on the steep hills and the chain is rusty from last year’s road salt.

“It gets cold, very cold.” Said Sanjay Bhansali, an international masters of chemistry student from India, “But pedaling hard warms you up.”

Bhansali has been making the trek from his apartment in Hancock to campus every school day since he moved to Hancock over two years ago. Bhansali does not have an American driver’s license and is unable to purchase a vehicle in the US, so he must find other ways to make the commute to campus. The walk from his apartment to campus takes over an hour, so he rides his bike rain or shine, morning and night.

“I still rode my bike in the winter last year. I don’t know if I want to this year, but I might have to.” Said Bhansali, and when asked if he ever crashed, he said with a smile, “A few times, nothing serious. Falling in the snow is soft”

Commuting solutions for students without vehicles, like Bhansali, are limited, especially in Hancock and other communities besides Houghton. Hancock does provide a city transit shuttle that services campus, but even the student rate can be prohibitively expensive for some students. If Bhansali were to take the city transit every day he goes to campus, it would cost him over $75 per month.

At a recent USG meeting, the difficulties of commuting without a vehicle were brought up. Several possible solutions discussed were expanding the existing campus bus route to include locations in Hancock or implementing a new shuttle service specifically for students across the bridge.

While it is a good idea that would greatly aid students living in Hancock who do not have the means to commute by vehicle, the proposal remains nebulous and it is uncertain when it will be implemented – if at all. Until then, Sanjay Bhansali, and many others like him, will continue to commute by bicycle or walk.

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