Getting Around Campus Efficiently: Transportation

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    Getting around campus and getting to places off-campus can be a pain, especially if you don’t have a car. Fortunately, most schools offer plenty of transportation services to get you where you need to be. 

    Services Offered

    • Campus shuttles: chances are if you’ve been around a university you’ve seen some of their shuttles. They go along the same routes every day to get you where you need to be on and a fair distance off campus. 
    • Metro shuttles: These shuttles are private shuttles that aren’t public commuter buses and also aren’t sponsored by your school. They’ll likely come through campus if you’re located in an urban or suburban area. If you plan to use these, you’ll need to pay a fare. 
    • Carsharing (Zipcar): Some campuses have special parking spaces that hold shared cars or Zipcars (a company that offers the service). You can use their app or website to plan your ride and rent the vehicle for a set amount of time. This is more expensive, so it’s best for one-time things like going off campus for an event or to an interview. 
    • Connection to public transit (metrobuses, trains, commuter buses): If your school is located near trains or airports, then there may be a shuttle that’ll take you there. That way, you can connect multiple forms of transportation to get where you want to go. 
    • Bike rentals: There are stations across some campuses that are similar to Zipcar that allow you to rent a bike. This is especially good if you’re running late to class or have to go somewhere that’s far across campus. 
    • Sustainable transportation incentives: Some schools offer incentives such as free rides home or discounted parking permits if you use sustainable transportation. 
    • Carpooling connection services: More and more schools are encouraging people to carpool as a way to save money and reduce environmental impact. They’ll even match you with other commuters through their website to make things easier for you.
    • Safe rides at night: Schools that are known for higher crime rates, partying, or dangerous surrounding areas offer programs where you can get a ride home at night if you feel unsafe or are unable to make it home. 

    Ways to Track Transportation and Catch Your Ride

    • NextBus and similar apps: check your school’s website or reach out to the transportation department to see what they use. These apps allow you to track all of your school’s shuttles in real time so you can plan your ride. They also show the direction the bus is travelling, when they’ll arrive, and what their typical route looks like (which shows where it’ll take you). 
    • DOT website: if your school is a medium to large size school, chances are there is a transportation department with its own website. If you go there, you can see a list of all the services and incentives they offer. They’ll also have a schedule of the stops their shuttles make and when they stop there. The shuttles might not always be perfect but this will give you a good idea of where and when to wait. 
    • Public transportation or private bus company website: There are websites that, similar to your school website, will list the routes and times that the transportation arrives. This even applies for trains and the website will additionally tell you how payment and boarding works as well as where the closest station is. 
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    Sean Fowler

    Writer

    Aerospace Engineering at UMD, intending to specialize in aeronautics with a focus on aerospace structures and design.

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