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Inside the Ride

Why Transit Makes Sense When Heading Back to Class

It’s everywhere. Back-to-school season is here. It’s inescapable at every store, television commercial, and Facebook timeline ad. But lost in all that shopping hype is some very pertinent information – how does the incoming ASU freshman get around town via transit and why is this so important? All the answers are right here…

The Benefits

Ashley Jobsts
Let’s start by highlighting the reasons ASU students should ride transit. First of all, it’s cheap. As in Ramen Noodle cheap. A U-Pass costs $200 for the entire school year (August 16, 2014 through May 15, 2015). That’s about $.75 a day and you will not find a less expensive way to travel. ASU Senior and Exercise and Wellness Major Ashley Jobsts takes light rail to get to her downtown Phoenix classes.

“Parking downtown can be a hassle and using light rail has saved me a lot of money on parking costs,” Ashley said. “Factor in rising gas prices and the cost of car maintenance and local transit is the easiest, least expensive way to get around.”

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Junior Justin Stabley enjoys the down time. Justin

“On longer light rail rides, I get time to work on things that I was too busy to concentrate on before. I can work on my schedule, finish homework, just let my mind wander,” he said.

Besides saving money on gas, parking and gaining time back in your day, riding transit also helps reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions – and cleaner air is a cause we can all rally around.

Plus, there are health benefits since people who take transit tend to get more physical activity than people who drive.

The Scene

Light rail has brought with it an array of locally-owned, unique destinations, many of which cater to ASU students. Ashley knows of several.

“One of my favorite places along the light rail line is the Fair Trade Café near the Roosevelt station,” Ashley said. “I also enjoy going to Pane Bianco near Campbell. It’s a tiny place but has unbelievable salads and sandwiches.”

Artlink First Fridays is another good one. On the first Friday of every month, students can tour art galleries and venues along the historical Roosevelt Row section of downtown Phoenix while mingling with thousands of art enthusiasts. Just hop on light rail and exit at Central / Roosevelt. Justin has another recommendation.

“One of my favorite locations in Phoenix is Hance Park at night,” he said. “The atmosphere created by the quiet space lit by orange flickering lights and the occasional light rail train going by is a pleasant contrast to the bright and busy Phoenician day.”

The Logistics

Now that you’ve been sold on using transit, here are a few guidelines to make your experience a pleasant one.

1.) Purchase your U-Pass. It’s available online or in-person at a campus Parking and Transit Services office. U-Pass
2.) Familiarize yourself with the local transit scene with this handy system map.
3.) Use our online trip planner to map out your most frequent trips and customize your trips with the online Transit Book.
4.) Check the holiday schedule to see if your trip is impacted on certain holidays.
5.) Once on board transit, please follow all the rules of conduct.
6.) Add NextRide to your Favorites tab for quick train and bus arrival times.

Valley Metro Community Relations Coordinator Dolores Nolan has one more very important tip. Dolores Nolan

“It’s crucial to validate your pass every time you board a bus or train,” Dolores added. “Failure to validate is considered fare evasion and you could end up getting fined or losing your pass.”
Those fines range from $50-$500 – so definitely not worth it. Here’s how to validate your pass at any fare vending machine or stand-alone validators, which are located at light rail stations and transit centers:

1.) Place the card directly against the orange target.
2.) Hold for a few seconds.
3.) Listen for the confirmation ding or look for the “Enjoy your ride” screen message.

Your U-Pass isn’t only good on light rail. It can also be used to travel by bus to destinations like Desert Botanical Garden and Old Town Scottsdale.

Not Yet a College Student?

So you’re not yet college-aged but still need a transit option to get to school? We’ve got you covered. Students ages 6-18 are eligible for Local Reduced Fares, which is half off regular price ($1.00 for an All Day Pass or $32 for a 31-Day pass). Students are required to show one of the following forms of identification to receive the discount:

1.) Driver’s license or state-issued ID card
2.) Student ID with photo age or current school year
3.) Valley Metro Reduced Fare ID card

Let the Learning Begin

Maybe transit wasn’t the first mode of transportation that crossed your mind. But Ashley Jobsts hopes to sway you.

“Give transit a try,” she said. “Once you realize how much easier it can be to get around you’ll realize it is the best option.”

“I think previous generations had a more romantic view of travel, it was a form of freedom, a way to connect with the world,” Justin added. “But in the internet age, transportation has become a simple task of getting from one place to another so there’s less of a need for personal vehicles.”

In fact, Millennials – those of you born between 1982 and 2003 – seek out walkable, urban settings with easy access to transportation. Since 2005, Arizona has seen a 10.5% decline in vehicle miles. This is due in large part to Millennials, who make up the largest generation in the Unites States.

Let’s not forget about all of you walkers, cyclists and health nuts. Dolores has some advice for you as well.

“Bus and light rail are also a great way to extend your trip if you walk or bike to school,” she said. “There are bike racks on trains and buses that can be utilized.”

Now that your back-to-school transit lesson is complete, we look forward to seeing you on board!

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