By Alice O’Donnell
I’m currently writing this article on the bus home to Cork, my purse significantly lighter than it was this time yesterday. Living away from home invokes a whole barrel of stress, and I believe having to scrape and save your already sparse budget to be able to afford going home shouldn’t be one of them. It’s an unfair reality that so many students have to sacrifice elements of student life, such as socialising, in order to simply afford to go home. But as any student living away from home will tell you, transportation seems to be one of the most expensive aspects of student life.
Many of my friends simply cannot afford to go home as often as they would like. It costs one of my friends over €40 to go back home to Wexford for the weekend. To put that into perspective, you can buy 28 Pot Noodles, or nine Smokies paninis with that €40 instead. Another of my friends in the first semester suffered from severe homesickness and went home every weekend, at a cost of €30 a trip. That added up to over €360 for the semester in total.
Although many bus and train companies boast about having ‘special’ student rates, in reality this often just means that a couple of euros are shaved off the full adult price. While of course any reduction in costs is greatly appreciated, it seems unnecessarily cruel to still be charging students so much to simply go home, especially when countless students must get multiple buses and trains in order to reach home.
Even by doing simple maths, it seems clear that these companies can afford to significantly lower student rates while still maintaining decent profits. The forty-seater bus that is currently taking me to Cork is half-full, but by my calculations is still making around 800 euros, not even including return tickets passengers may have purchased. With such high earnings per trip, it seems to be more greed than necessity that causes student tickets to remain at such a high price.
Many countries are moving towards making public transportation far more affordable. Luxembourg has recently vowed to make all public transport free by 2020, the first country in the world to do so. It begs the question: if countries such as Luxembourg can afford to get rid of all public travel fees, surely Ireland’s public transportation services can afford to reduce student costs.
Although Galway in undoubtedly a wonderful city and a great place to be, sometimes you just want to go home. It’s an upsetting reality that so many students stay in Galway over the weekend simply because any alternative to go home is just too expensive. Ireland already holds the second most expensive university tuition fees in Europe. When coupled with rising accommodation costs, it’s any wonder that students have a euro to spare. In light of this, it seems cruel and unnecessary that student transportation costs are simply so extortionate.