InTrans / Mar 30, 2016

The college student perspective: ISU

Go! Magazine

ISU bus.

When it comes to transportation, sometimes it’s hard to understand what’s easy, what’s best, and what’s the most affordable.

Hi, I’m Hannah. I’m a 21 year old, cat-loving, coffee-drinking student who uses transportation just like the rest of the world. This is my third year studying journalism at Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, Iowa, where I live across the street from campus. Almost every class or meeting I need to be at is less than a mile away. And when it comes to getting around, I have a couple of options: the bus, my car, or just walk! Considering how close I live to campus, you’d think it would be an easy choice to just walk to class every day, but it’s still important to weigh the pros and cons of what’s available. I’m a college student, so saving money is a priority (but so is making it to class on time, whatever it takes). I’ll tell you a little bit about my options.

Driver status

Driving is easily one of my favorite ways to get around. It seems like the most convenient option, specifically when in a pinch for time or when traveling long distances.

Student behind the wheel of a car.
Behind the wheel.
Photo by Hannah Postlethwait

When driving, I don’t have to wait around for the bus to come; driving my car means getting around on my own time. And if I take my car, I can drive myself right to my destination, whereas with the bus I have to walk a little bit to complete the journey. But is that really a big deal? My answer is no, because when I plan ahead, I have more than enough time to wait for the bus and go the extra distance. Also, there isn’t a lot of parking on campus anyway. In most cases, the ease of taking the bus or walking easily outweighs the benefits of driving. That way, I’m not responsible for parking and I don’t have to pay for gas. Parking tickets and filling my gas tank are two of the easiest ways to spend hundreds of dollars just to get around, and where I live that simply isn’t necessary. Driving is transport made easy (or so it seems). It also comes with plenty of repercussions.

Favorite time to drive: When I need to get groceries, because taking them on the bus gets heavy!

Passenger status

Like I said, where I live, I hardly even need a car. As fun and independent as driving can be, it usually isn’t worth the trip when considering the alternatives. Where I live, there’s a bus system—free to students—called “CyRide,” and it takes me everywhere I need to go!

Student waiting at a bus stop.
Taking the bus.
Photo by Hannah Postlethwait

Like I mentioned, there are a few drawbacks. For example, it doesn’t take me exactly to the parking lot or building I need to get to (but it gets pretty darn close). And if I take the bus, I don’t have to worry about parking my car or coming back for it later. Though the bus requires extra waiting time, on and off the bus, it’s almost a no-brainer when considering it’s free transportation. Most importantly, the bus will run whether I’m on it or not, so it’s better for the environment if I just hop on the bus instead of riding separately. Taking any city bus is easy once you understand what stops/routes work for you!

Favorite time to take the bus: When I need to get to work (located off-campus)!

Pedestrian status

Perhaps the best way to get around is walking. When I choose to travel on foot, it checks all the boxes: it’s free, I can come and go on my own time, and I don’t have to worry about the hassle and expenses that come with driving. Not only that but walking gives back to my overall health. Choosing to walk is basically choosing to work out, and I’m saving money all at the same time. Plus, if it’s nice out, it’s the perfect excuse to be outside. Inversely, when the weather gets cold (as it often does in Iowa), walking becomes significantly less pleasant. Though walking helps to keep me in shape, I can usually justify taking my car or a bus if it gets to be less than 20-30 degrees outside. Walking also takes longer and there’s a chance I’ll be worn out by the time I get to where I’m going. That being said, it doesn’t take long to cool-down from a good walk. It’s not always practical to walk everywhere, but it’s my best option when I can (as long as I’m down to tough it out!) When something keeps me from walking, whether it be fatigue, the elements, or long distances, public transportation is this there for me.

Favorite time to walk: Almost all the time, but especially from March through November.

By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer

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