How to Live Without a Car in the U.S.

parking lot

According a U.S. News & World report, 48% of students at the U.S. universities surveyed have a car on campus. That percentage varies widely from campus to campus; at some colleges virtually all students have cars, at other schools only a small handful do, and some campuses are nearly car-free. Buying and maintaining a car can be expensive, especially for college students. So how else can students get where they need to be?

Depending on where your school is located, some of these alternative methods of transportation may not apply. If you don’t have your own car, and even if you do, here are some great ways to travel locally:

Public transportation (bus, subway, train) is great because it’s cheap, found in every major city (and some smaller cities and towns), and is a more environmentally friendly travel method. Large cities with widely used public transportation systems are New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Sometimes students can receive discounts on passes or tickets, which will usually require showing a student identification card.

nyc subway

A car service such as a taxi is a good option if you need to get somewhere quick, are splitting the cost with other passengers, or are heading somewhere that isn’t easily accessible by public transportation. Alternative “rideshare” services such as Lyft and Uber have become quite popular, and Zipcar is available right on some college campuses. These car services are sometimes more convenient than public transportation when traveling with luggage to and from the airport.

Campus shuttles are found at some college campuses that are too big to walk or bike everywhere. Even if your school doesn’t have regular shuttle service, they might run shuttles during special events, around move-in and move-out days, or on weekends to the city, shopping centers, and other typically inaccessible places.

Walking or biking is always a free or affordable option. If you don’t have your own bike, some campuses or cities will have a bike share program.

student biking

No matter how you get there, take the opportunity to explore your new home. Find the closest sport and entertainment facilities, shopping centers, and outdoor areas and parks. Discover your favorite new restaurant or study spot at the public library or nearest café. Not only will these alternative methods of getting around help you save money, but they’ll also provide you a new way of seeing your surroundings.

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