Bicycle sharing systems have become quite popular and rather standard in major European and Asian cities. From Barcelona to Bangkok, from Paris to Beijing, residents and tourists alike can take advantage of rentable bikes to move around the city, usually with just the swipe of a card. Across the pond, there are 34 bike-sharing programs in more forward-thinking cities, including New York City, which currently has the largest system.
What’s even better is that about 100 universities across the U.S. now provide a low cost or free bike sharing system as well, so your college might be on the list.
However, if you don’t have access to a bike sharing system and your own bike won’t take you where you need to go, there are still plenty of great options for cheap transportation for college students, whether you’re moving around town or between cities.
Take a look at any city on Craigslist and you’ll see that there is a category specifically just for this service. There are often college students going to and from campus and their hometown on Fridays and Sundays, and also at the start and end of school vacation, so take a look and you just might find someone going your way. You can also try posting or searching on CouchSurfing.org if you’re looking for a rideshare—you may even get a ride for free.
An organized system called ZimRide.com also connects drivers with riders (for long or short distance trips) but currently only in major cities like NYC, LA and DC. Secured payment is via Paypal, and you can check out the details of driver and passenger profiles before you decide to make contact. Ridesharing is usually a much more convenient, faster and even cheaper way to get to your destination compared to the bus or Amtrak or renting a car. And you never know when you’ll make some friends along the way.
Local Bus System
If you have a student ID, you can almost always get a cheaper fare on any local bus. Check with your campus transport or city department of transportation office to see if you can get a discount transport card. With a student ID, you can also apply for discounts on long distance transport, including Amtrak (15 % student discount), Greyhound (20 % discount) and certain travel agencies, like Student Agency (statravel.com), where having an ISIC (International Student Card) or youth card (ages 26 and under) allows you access to cheaper airfare and train travel worldwide.
This membership-based car rental service works on an hourly or daily basis and even pays for the gas. If you don’t have a car and just need to get from point A to point B as quickly and conveniently as possible, this might be the best option for you. It’s basically like the bike sharing system with cars instead of bikes. Not only do students get a good discount on rental rates, but your university may already have Zip cars all over campus—you can do a quick search to find out.
On Demand Drivers
Apps like UberX, Sidecar and Lyft (from Zimride) allow you to connect with drivers and request a ride immediately in the cities where these services are available. Mostly, the fares are said to be lower than paying for a cab.
If you’re just looking for downright cheap transport to anywhere in the country and don’t care how long your journey takes, then you’ll do well with MegaBus, which often offers long distance fares for as low as $1 (really!).
Students and even the “under 26” youth category are able to access all sorts of discounts, freebies and special offers when it comes saving money cheap transportation, so take advantage while you still can. A free cookie from Subway is nice, but 30% off your monthly public transport pass is even better!
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