By Lily Barnette and Ülvi Gitaliyev
In many ways, Berea becomes an island for students who do not have a car. The only way to leave Berea College without a car is to take Greyhound Bus or walk. As someone who has done both, neither option is pleasant. Then, there is the issue of travelling in the city for shopping and recreational activities. While the college does offer shuttles to the local Walmart and other places, not all students are free at the non-flexible hours to use them .
One alternative that is rarely used by students is the Berea Bus System. Operated by Kentucky River Foothills, the Berea Bus System operates buses from Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5pm, in a looping route that repeats every hour. The buses stop near Berea College and can drop off students to Walmart, Goodwill or other nearby locations. A full schedule and list of stops can be found here. Bus tickets are 1$ for a one day pass (0.50$ for college students) and yet, the bus is rarely used by Berea College and other residents of Berea. We wanted to investigate why this was the case and make students more aware of this relatively cheap transportation option available for them.
The Berea Torch interviewed Karen Atkins, and Tyler Burris, Public Information Officer and Transportation Director for Kentucky River Foothills respectively, to learn more about the Berea Bus Service and how students could best make use of it. Burris is an alumni of Berea College and in graduated 2013 with a degree in Business Administration.
It soon became clear how proud both of them were of the Berea Bus Service and the work that it had taken to create it. Atkins said that:
“Berea Bus Service was our first it was our first public transit endeavor…there was so much engagement in the community about nailing down where to best place the bus stops, where would people most likely get on and then where they need to go. Grocery stores, your medical appointments downtown. So there was quite a lot of focus groups and interviews that were done over the years.” She also added that the busses were “open to everyone” regardless of age, residency or any factors.
One misconception about the Berea Bus Service is that when you get on in the stop nearest to Berea College, the bus will take a loop around the city before dropping off in Walmart, making the trip take longer than walking. Burris explained that in order to avoid this problem, students had to get on the bus in the The College Square/Boone Tavern Bus Stop stop, instead of the The Boone Tavern/Union Church Bus Stop. The first stop would take you to Walmart within 15 minutes, while the other would take a loop around all of Berea first. Then, once you were done with your shopping, you would get on the bus at the Walmart stop and get back to the college next to Union Church. Burris admitted that this was an easy mistake to make, due to how the map schedules had been published.
Lastly, Atkins talked the other services provided by Kentucky River Foothills, such as the Madison County Connector Service, which took Berea residents to Richmond and vice versa, and the Intercity Service, which could take you to airports in Lexington, Cincinnati and elsewhere. More information about all these services and more can be found here. Both Atkins and Burris hoped that more students would begin to use the Berea Bus Service and that if any students had complaints or suggestions, then they could contact them on their website.