Transit doesn't have to be that difficult in C-U

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By Declan Harty

Traffic on I-57 or I-74 is never fun. 

It’s move-in day and the sweat drips down your back, seeping through your orange and blue t-shirt on a 95-degree August day. The car can’t move slow enough, and it doesn’t help that you most likely are trying to learn the good radio stations in Champaign-Urbana. (I strongly suggest WPGU 107.1 if you enjoy alternative). 

The sheer mass of people heading toward their dorms, apartments or houses is only causing you to get more flustered. And all you can think about is how are you going to keep dealing with the chaos of travel? 

At the end of the day, traveling to and from campus can be a pain. But whether it’s a weekend trip home for your sister’s birthday or your old man’s retirement party, it always seems to work out. 

There are some who are graced with the beauty of a car on campus (despite the remarkably disturbing parking rates …), but for most, determining the best way to get back home or to another college is difficult if you’re new to C-U.

There are more options than you probably could have ever imagined though. Buses, trains, carpooling; there’s even an airport just miles from campus (even though that’s probably not the most cost effective method to get home, in-state or out). From companies to prices, here is a breakdown of the best travel options.

Peoria Charter 

Destinations: Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Chicago, Macomb, Joliet, Oakbrook, Schaumburg, Matteson, Tinley Park, Woodridge, Midway and O’Hare Aiports

Base ticket price: $30

Pick up locations: Illinois Terminal, Panda Express (Wright and Green streets), Armory, ISR, Altgeld Hall, Ikenberry Commons, FAR/PAR, Orchard Downs

Yelp Reviews: 4.5 stars

My review: 4.5 stars — Peoria Charter was a fixture for me my freshman year when I attended Illinois Wesleyan University and came to visit. PCC is reliable, trustworthy and safe. 

Suburban Express

Destinations: Oakbrook, Schaumburg, Woodridge, Tinley Park, O’Hare Airport  

*Base ticket price: $28.50

Pick-up locations: ISR, Armory, Altgeld Hall, Hilton Champaign

Yelp Review: 1.5 stars

My review: 1 star — Suburban Express has had its fair share of issues, especially when it comes to the court of public opinion. I’ve never traveled with them, and while their coupons make them one of the cheapest on campus, their regulations and protocols have scared me (and many others) away from venturing onto their buses. 

Burlington Trailways

Destinations: Bloomington-Normal, Peoria, Galesburg, Moline, Davenport (Iowa), Chicago, Kankakee, Effingham, Mattoon, Mount Vernon, Memphis, St. Louis, Indianapolis 

*Base ticket price: 21 days in advance – $1 tickets; $30 the rest of the time

Pick-up locations: Illinois Terminal

Yelp Review: 2.5 stars

My review: 4 stars — Burling Trailways is part of a large company that can take you pretty much anywhere in the U.S. Some of the routes from C-U extend all the way to Alabama and Los Angeles, and after speaking with one of the representatives from BT, the customer service there is great, especially once you learn about the $1 tickets. 

Greyhound

Destinations: St. Louis, Chicago

*Ticket range: $17.50 to $34

Pick-up locations: Illinois Terminal

Yelp Review: 3 stars

My review: 2.5 stars — Greyhound is a fixture when it comes to transportation, but frankly their times and availability to and from C-U are not as expansive as students may need. But if you can get and afford one of their buses, you’re in for a reliable, safe trip. 

Amtrak

Direct Routes: City of New Orleans (Chicago to Memphis to New Orleans) and Illinois Service (Chicago to Carbondale) 

*Ticket range: $22-$72

Pick-up locations: Illinois Terminal

Yelp Review: 3 stars

My review: 3.5 stars — The Amtrak from Champaign is great. Reliable, fast, easy, simple, and puts you right in the heart of where you are going, which is spectacular. The price isn’t as ideal for college students, but it is a great option for many students. 

*All ticket prices are based on rates found online from Friday trip from Champaign-Urbana to Chicago’s Union Station or O’Hare airport. All ticket prices are simply an idea, and will most likely change – teaching all of us that procrastination doesn’t just hurt grades, but also wallets. Tweet: Transit in C-U is easier than you would have ever thought