Valley Transit buses have routes throughout the Fox Cities.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Getting around the Fox Cities just got easier for Lawrence students.

Beginning immediately, Lawrence students can ride Valley Transit buses for free with their student ID. The pilot program is a partnership between Lawrence University and the public transportation service that provides access to Appleton and surrounding communities.

“Lawrentians come to Appleton from all over the world, not only to further their education but to forge meaningful relationships in a new geography,” said Garrett Singer, director of Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change. “This partnership will contribute to that experience by allowing students to explore the Fox Valley without limitation.”

For students who may be new to riding public transit, Valley Transit offers a free travel training program where students are partnered with a travel trainer who takes them through the process of riding the bus and navigating routes to where they want to go within the Fox Cities. To sign up for travel training, visit myvalleytransit.com/travel-training.

Lawrence President Laurie Carter called the partnership with Valley Transit an important connection for students who want to more fully engage with the community that Lawrence calls home. The school has long provided shuttle services and other connectors, but this new option gives students much greater flexibility, and at no additional cost to the student.

“I am grateful to Valley Transit for their partnership, which will make a meaningful difference in the lives of our students and their engagement with our surrounding community,” Carter said.

Valley Transit General Manager Ron McDonald hailed the new arrangement as a more accessible bridge to the community. The bus service has similar partnerships with a number of other schools.

“Our team works hard each day to help people find their place in the community by eliminating transportation barriers,” McDonald said. “This new partnership is truly a community-driven effort to expand access.”

The service gives Lawrence students new opportunities regarding off-campus employment, makes it easier to volunteer with local nonprofits, and improves access to retail and entertainment outlets across the Fox Cities. While students have always had easy access to downtown Appleton, it was more difficult to access other parts of Appleton or the downtown districts in other communities in the greater Fox Cities.

“Having access to safe and reliable transportation through Valley Transit will support off-campus employment and volunteer engagements, link our students with local businesses for shopping and entertainment, and—perhaps most importantly—deepen our students’ sense of belonging and connectedness to the Fox Cities,” Singer said.

Valley Transit has rules in place to help keep riders and drivers safe. Per a federal mask mandate, masks are required to be worn at all times while using Valley Transit services. In addition, there are air purification systems and driver barriers installed on the buses, and hand sanitizer is readily available on all buses and in the transit center.

With 18 bus routes spanning 117 square miles, Valley Transit provides transportation to the many communities that make up the Fox Cities including Appleton, Buchanan, Fox Crossing, Grand Chute, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Menasha, and Neenah. Valley Transit also offers options for paratransit and demand response services. To learn more, visit myvalleytransit.com.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu