By Donica Farwell
When measured in the fall semester of 2015, the University of Georgia consisted of 36,130 undergraduate and graduate students. Not to mention the 10,102 faculty, administrators and maintenance work force. With 463 buildings throughout the main campus alone, it comes as no surprise that parking can be a hassle for both commuting students and on campus students. The amount of people traveling through campus clearly surpasses available parking. Stretched over 762 acres, walking is not always a reasonable or safe option. With such a large campus, circumstances such as lack of a car or being under the influence inhibit many students from the opportunity to drive either around campus or home after a night out. However, UGA and the city of Athens provide a variety of local transportation options for the safety and convenience of UGA students.
UGA BUS SYSTEM:
Free to everyone, the UGA Bus System provides convenient transportation throughout the school day. A few routes include: “North/South,” which runs from North to South Campus, “East Campus Express,” which travels around East Campus and surrounding bus stops, and “Orbit,” which pretty much goes everywhere. Self-explanatory names give students a general idea of where a bus is going. However, information on the various routes and arrival times are available on the free UGA app. Night and weekend routes are also available. Weekender buses also aid students living on campus to travel to Ramsey or dining halls. Students mainly use UGA buses to be dropped off at dorms, on-campus apartments or bus stops for commuting students to transfer to Athens Transit. “It cuts down my time to get from Creswell to North Campus by at least 10-12 minutes,” says Chad Ward, a freshmen communications studies and philosophy double major from Cumming. Also, UGA bus drivers fall among the highest paying student jobs. “They have been very friendly so far,” Ward says. While riding the UGA buses can be a pleasant experience, buses often become overcrowded due to their popularity. “I wish there were more buses, but overall I have had a good experience,” Ward says. Alex Cosper, a sophomore intended exercise and sports science major from Valdosta, agrees, “The buses are helpful for the most part, sometimes they are a little slow or too full, or show up a little later than I want.” Cosper has a parking pass for the Ramsey parking deck, but Cosper, living in McWhorter Hall in ECV, says, “I am fine with bussing to class across campus.” Despite crowding and wait times, UGA buses remain a necessary mode of transportation to get around campus. By knowing the stops, using the UGA app and planning ahead, UGA students can efficiently travel to class without driving a car.
With 19 different routes across the Athens area, Athens Transit provides free transportation to all students and faculty with a valid UGA ID. Athens Transit is especially beneficial for those living in off campus student apartments. Athens Transit goes beyond campus, giving students rides across the city to places such as to WalMart or Beechwood Plaza. These buses run throughout the week and just started offering Sunday service. UGA has also included route, live tracking of buses and other Athens Transit information on the free UGA app. Blaise McComb, a sophomore intended marketing major from Las Vegas, Nevada, takes Athens Transit routes 25 and 28 from the Reserve Apartments to the Miller Learning Center. “Athens Transit is the most inexpensive alternative for me to get to campus from our apartment complex. Plus I don’t have a parking pass. For a municipal bus service, I am impressed with its convenience and helpfulness,” McComb says. “Most of the drivers for Athens Transit are friendly and well trained. They have a lot of heart and I appreciate that.” While Athens Transit is free and does have efficient routes to campus, most buses only reach a certain stop every hour. This can be frustrating if your class starts at 8 a.m., and the bus is not scheduled to come until the 50th minute.“Overall, the bus is good if you get it at the right time,” says Caroline Corbitt, a sophomore graphic design major from Valdosta. Essentially, get lucky with class times and get on the bus at an unusual stop and traveling from off campus will be a breeze.
Recently launched by SGA, GOTCHA (Green Operated Transportation Carrying Humanity) cars provide transportation for students on campus 7 p.m.–2 a.m. in 100% electric cars. Not only are these cars good for the environment, but they also allow students to safely return from a night out, a study session away from their dorm or a workout at Ramsey. “No one likes to walk home alone at night, especially on a weekend,” says Lucie D’Angelo, a freshmen early childhood education major from Urbana, Illinois. “Once I had been doing homework kind of late at my friend’s dorm, and my roommate fell asleep when she was supposed to pick me up. My friend suggested I use GOTCHA, and I’m glad I did.” While the GOTCHA service is free, tips are appreciated for the student drivers. To request a ride, a student must simply download the free app and order a GOTCHA car during the hours of operation. “Students are able to utilize the service as a quick, convenient and safer option as opposed to walking at night. The service will hopefully allow students to feel more comfortable with getting around campus,” says Adam Barth, a freshman economics and finance major and former GOTCHA driver from Roswell. “The company is trying to expand to accommodate students on Milledge Avenue, as well.” The main function of GOTCHA is the safety of students at night. If this service continues to gain popularity, no student will ever have to walk at night alone.
For when there are no buses running, you live off campus or need a ride at the push of a button, UBER is there. Downtown Athens is filled with over 80 bars in a single square mile radius. Due to the large number of students going out at night, UBER is a very popular way to make sure students get downtown and home safely. Let UBER be your designated driver to avoid drinking and driving. To order an UBER, simply download the free app, enter your credit card information, type in your location and request to be picked up. Within minutes you have a ride at your doorstep. After the ride, UBER automatically charges your account with the app, so there is no monetary transaction in the car. Prices range from around $6 to $20, but prices can surge during high demand times. Ride with friends! If an UBER costs $8 dollars and you bring three other friends with you, that’s only $2 a person. Also, if a friend recommends UBER to you by giving you a promotional code, your first ride is free. UBER rides are fun experiences because the drivers are usually very friendly and often entertaining. “Drivers are committed to doing their job in a professional, safe manner. Like anything in life, there are always bad apples,” says Dave, a junior risk management major and UBER driver. To be safe, check the number of stars an UBER driver is rated and make sure the arrived car and driver matches the pictures on the app. Always ride UBER with your friends – it’s cheaper anyway.
Athens is a great town to live in because there are so many options for modes of transportation. Try them all out, find your favorite and get to moving around Athens!