MERIDEN — Daniel Maskell was the first Middlesex Community College student to use a new bus stop added to help students get to the new Platt High School campus.
Maskell received an e-mail Monday from the college about the added stop and was relieved.
“It helps me because I don’t have to walk an hour to get to school,” Maskell said as he boarded the bus Tuesday.
North East Transportation recently received approval from the state Department of Transportation to begin operating side trips to and from Platt High School. The added service began Tuesday.
The bus departs from State Street at 2:30 p.m., 3:50 p.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays from the train station on State Street for the 10 minute ride to the Middlesex Community College campus at Platt High School. Return trips from Platt to the train station are at 2:40 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. The C bus, which travels on West Main Street as far as Hubbard Park, has added the stop to its usual run. After 5:10 p.m., students are on their own.
“After months of back and forth with many people involved with public transportation in Meriden we have secured a commitment for bus routes to serve the MxCC students who will be taking classes at Platt High School,” said state Sen. Len Suzio. “Hopefully it will make a difference to many of our students who don’t have transportation.”
MxCC closed its Meriden Center on West Main Street last year because of cuts in the state budget and entered into talks with local education officials last winter to find public school facilities to keep a college presence in the city. This spring, MxCC announced it would occupy 10 classrooms and the media center at the newly renovated high school in the late afternoon and evenings. Under terms of the deal, MxCC pays no rent for the space but reserves five spaces in each class for Meriden Public School students and staff. The college is also responsible for its own security at the Platt campus.
But educators and administrators have expressed concern that students without transportation wouldn’t be able to get to the new location in the city’s west end. Maskell, who lives on Center Street, was among those students.
“When the downtown college closed I was worried about that,” he said. “I knew if I didn’t get a bus pass from the college, I was going to have to walk.”
Maskell recently finished taking college readiness classes at the Adult Learning Center on Pratt Street, and attending classes at MxCC was the next step in his journey to become an opthalmologic technician.
Suzio worked with Associate City Engineer Howard Weissberg, School Superintendent Mark Benigni and acting MxCC President and Dean Steven Minkler to get the stop added for students.
“MxCC is thrilled to open our new Meriden location at Platt High School this week,” Minkler said. “Enrollment is strong and we are looking forward to a successful semester. Having regularly scheduled bus service to Platt will help our students attend the classes they need as part of their college program.”
North East will post notices on all added buses, alert CTtransit of the change and post to its website, in addition to providing notices for MxCC and at Platt High School.
Using public school facilities to save the MxCC program “is a good example of the cooperation that we need to rescue our state from its financial crisis,” Suzio said. “Hopefully, Meriden and MxCC will be good examples for others to follow.”
Maskell’s schedule also worked in his favor.
“My last class ends at 5,” he said.