Bicycle sharing systems have become quite popular and rather standard in major European and Asian cities. From around the world, residents and tourists alike can take advantage of rentable bikes to move around the city. Across the pond, there are 34 bike-sharing programs in more forward-thinking cities. This includes New York City, which currently has the most extensive system. With so many different options available, there’s plenty of cheap transportation for college students.
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 or a bike-sharing system, there are still plenty of great options for cheap transportation for college students.
Cheap Transportation for College Students: Ridesharing
Take a look at any city on Craigslist, and you’ll see that there is a category just for this service. There are often college students going to and from campus and their hometown on Fridays and Sundays. This includes at the start and end of school vacation as well, so take a look, and you might find someone going your way. You can also try CouchSurfing.org if you’re looking for 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). ZimRide currently only in major cities like NYC, LA, and D.C. 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.
Cheap Transportation for College Students: Local Bus System
Local bus systems can be an affordable school transportation method. If you have a student I.D., 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 I.D., you can also apply for discounts on long-distance transport. The options include Amtrak (15 % student discount), Greyhound (20 % discount) and certain travel agencies. Travel agencies like Student Agency (statravel.com) allow college students to access to cheaper airfare and train travel worldwide. This applies if you have an International Student Card or youth card (ages 26 and under).
ZipCar can be a means of transportation if you are searching for a ride home from college. 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 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.
Apps like UberX, Sidecar, and Lyft (from Zimride) allow you to connect with drivers. From on-demand drivers, you can 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.
Alternatively, if you are looking to become an on-demand driver, consider Lyft. Rates may vary, but Lyft workers can usually expect to earn anything from $10 and $35 an hour.
If you’re looking for downright cheap transport and don’t care how long your journey takes, then you’ll do well with MegaBus. This company often offers long-distance fares for as low as $1 (really!).
Students and even the “under 26” youth category can access all sorts of discounts, freebies and special offers when it comes to saving money cheap transportation, so take advantage. A free cookie from Subway is sweet, but 30% off your monthly public transport pass is even better!
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Suchi Rudra is an avid traveler and freelance writer from Texas who covers personal finance, travel, green building, tech, and entrepreneurship. Her work can be found in VICE, The Guardian, Vice, American Way, BBC Travel, Fodor’s, Transitions Abroad, PlanetEye.com, TravelStart.com, Expats.cz, The Writer and India Currents and many other publications.