Some students might face longer commutes after an Aug. 31 email from Loyola Transportation Services advised students to take the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) Red Line Train instead of driving or taking the bus due to the construction on Lake Shore Drive.
The email said traffic has been reduced to one lane turning right onto North Sheridan Road off of Lake Shore Drive. It could take commuters up to an hour driving up Lake Shore Drive between North Avenue and Monroe Street, with northbound and southbound traffic reduced to two lanes in either direction, read the email. Improvements began Sept. 5 and will continue until further notice, according to the email.
Gretchen Carey, manager of Campus Transportation, said the average shuttle time to the Water Tower Campus was 25 minutes during the first week of classes, but the commute can take around 45 minutes during the morning rush hour. This commute is expected to extend longer as construction ramps up, Carey said.
Campus Transportation is working on finding alternative routes for shuttles to avoid the construction; and the road work is estimated to last for the next one to two months, Carey said.
A report published by The Educated Driver found the average Chicagoan spends 503 days of their lives commuting. This amounts to an average daily commute time of 64 minute according to the study.
With the recent construction on Lake Shore Drive, the increasing commute times could impact the 7,000 commuter students at Loyola, such as Steve Mathew, a sophomore studying nursing who drives to school from Skokie.
“Coming down North Sheridan the first day I drove here I was not expecting it to go down to one lane and I was like ‘Oh God, what did I get myself into?’” Mathew said.
Despite the extensive traffic and his six mile drive taking up to thirty minutes, Mathew said he continues commuting by car.
“I enjoy driving,” Mathew said, “Yeah, it’s hard to deal with traffic but for me it beats the train any day.”
While many Loyola students use the CTA, Campus Transportation writes 1,000 parking permits per semester for students who drive to school, according to Carey.
Diann Villamena, a junior studying exercise science, said she commutes by train from Rosemont.
“I commute an hour and a half, so that takes up a lot of homework time and study time,” she said.
She said time spent on trains, buses and in cars means time away from family, academics and a social life.
Michelle Wojtas, also a junior majoring in exercise science, faces a 50-minute drive to school from home and said she finds it hard to participate in social activities at Loyola.
“I definitely thought about joining Greek Life or something like that around campus, but I just feel like I don’t have the time because I work on the weekends,” Wojtas said, “I try to go to things on the weekend but sometimes I don’t want to come back here on the weekends.”
Commuting can take a costly toll on health, according to a Scientific American report indicating that commuters are affected by psychosomatic disorders at a higher rate than those who have a short travel time.
Psychosomatic disorders are disturbances in the mind which are expressed physically, according to Britannica. It’s the the same concept of increasing blood pressure when a person becomes angry, Britannica states. The symptoms commuters might face include headaches, backaches, digestive problems, high blood pressure and sleep disturbances, according to The Scientific American.
However, for some Loyola commuters, the extra travel is worth it.
“Sometimes I wish I could get away from my parents but sometimes I like eating with my family, it’s kind of nice to eat a homemade meal,” Mathew said.
For some students, the options of traveling by train offers time to spare.
“I watch Netflix [on the train],” Villamena said, “But if I have an exam I’ll study or something, or like if I didn’t read the night before I’ll read then.”
To combat the difficulties commuters face with their academic and social lives, the Office of Off-Campus Student Life organizes various events with commuter students in mind. Events posted on the office’s website include commuter connect gatherings, commuter appreciation days and Joe n’ Go Tuesdays, where non-residential students are offered a free cup of coffee in the commuter resource room in the Damen Student Center.