A Lesson in Public Transportation
When going off to college, having a car seems like an essential to some people. Others think they will be fine without one.
Let me tell you, from my personal experience, they are both wrong.
If you live on campus, you have everything you need at your fingertips: food, the gym, a bookstore, entertainment, etc. But at some point, you will feel like it is time to go off campus, explore the city and make some good memories.
As an international student here at Angelo State, I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t even consider buying a car for the short period I would stay here, so I had to find a way to manage my transportation. But many new students face the big question: Do I really need a car to go to college?
Personally, I think it is possible to survive college without a car, especially if there are alternatives available to students.
I know people in Texas really love their trucks and would never cheat on them with a bus. I’ve met many students who confessed that they have never taken public transportation in their lives and are pretty scared of the prospect.
But if you are planning to study abroad, especially in countries were public transportation is a big deal, like Germany, South Korea or Japan, I would suggest trying to take the bus a couple of times here in San Angelo, just to get some training and to understand how it works.
Besides, I would rather get lost here in San Angelo, where people are nice and would probably offer you a ride, than take the wrong bus in a big city in a foreign country, where you probably don’t understand a single word of what people are saying.
There’s a new options for ASU students who don’t have a car. They can take advantage of the Ram Tram or use another form of public transportation.
The Ram Tram is a free city bus route created especially for ASU students. There are two stops on campus (in front of Centennial Village and in the parking lot between Concho Hall and Plaza Verde building 4), then it takes students to every place they would want to go: the mall, Walmart, downtown, the movie theater and more.
It runs weekends only, from 5:30 p.m. Fridays to Sunday at 1:30 a.m., so this is a great opportunity for students to enjoy their Friday and Saturday nights without having to worry about driving.
If you need public transportation other days of the week, you still have options.
Public transportation in San Angelo is provided by TRANSA Concho Valley Transit District and has two routes that run near the campus: Route 1 stops on Jackson Street (near Vanderventer Apartments) and goes south toward Knickerbocker Road, location of many restaurant chains and shopping. Route 5 stops near Centennial Village and reaches downtown about 15 minutes after you board.
Here are some tips from someone who commuted on public transportation for nine years of her life, first in high school and then in college:
Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes early.
I can assure you that you are going to have a panic attack while waiting for the bus. Questions like “Am I taking the bus in the right direction?” “Did I check the schedule of the wrong route?” and “Why is the bus not here yet?” will fill your head. If you get there early, you will have the time to calm down and make sure that you did everything right to make sure you don’t take the wrong bus.
Make an ally of the driver.
Drivers know what they are doing, where you are and where you are going. So be nice, say hi when getting in the bus. Give them a big smile and ask for help. The driver will tell you when to get off at the right place and occasionally, if he or she isn’t too frustrated by the traffic, they will turn into an unexpected but knowledgeable tour guide.
Use your smartphone.
These days, it’s easy to know where you are and what is around you. Many public transportation companies or transport authorities have developed their own app to make public transportation easier and free of glitches. Also, you can find a lot of apps that have access to a database with info on schedules and routes all over the world. Even just using Google Maps or the GPS of your phone can help a lot with knowing where you are at every moment of your trip.
If this is not enough, TRANSA offers an introduction to public transportation class that includes trip planning, field training and route knowledge.
But trust me, I think you can figure it out on your own.