Transport – Have Bike, Will Travel

There’s just no getting away from it…somehow or other we’re all going to have to make our way from our accommodation all the way to the teaching buildings, Student Union and beyond – on an almost daily basis!
   On your behalf STEPHANIE GRAY has a look at the most effective and efficient methods of getting from A to B.
   You’re welcome!

An enthusiastic student skipping through the snow to get to a lecture on time… an uncommon sight, you might say.
   An annoyed, under-dressed fresher trudging through the snow to get to a lecture late through lack of bus money, though, is far more likely.
   On hearing the news that I would be heading to Edinburgh for uni, I anticipated that I would be walking everywhere to save money.
   Very quickly I was put in my place – Edinburgh is built on seven hills, and my campus was conveniently situated on one of them. Immediately I wrote off walking as my regular mode of transport.
   Transport isn’t really something you consider much when you arrive at university for the first time.
   You want to go out, make friends and find someone in the vicinity who knows how to cook.
   Pretty quickly after moving to a big city (especially if you’re a country dweller at heart) you will most probably get lost and most certainly get on the wrong bus.
   I remember once packing a flatmate off on the bus for her first day of lectures, turning to head back to the flat and realising I had no idea how to get home.
   Aside from the initial confusion though, I’ve found my own experiences of Edinburgh buses to be largely positive. There are ways to get around without needing much of a sense of direction.
   Apps showing bus stops, routes and live updates are easy to come by and a lifesaver in your first few weeks.
   Once you’ve found your bus, keep an eye on fares.
   Something worth checking out is getting a Young Scot bus card – it’s free and means that until you turn 19 you’ll pay significantly smaller fares.
   Monthly bus cards also make public transport a more attractive option; Edinburgh buses only take exact change.
   Paying an amount in advance not only saves you money, but avoids the inevitable trip to the cash machine and then to a shop to change the note into change.
   Don’t get me wrong, I love a Greggs, but stopping off every morning before uni becomes a bit tedious.
   If you’re too stingy to part with your student loan or hard earned cash just to get around, a bike is the way to go.
   I didn’t take one with me in my first year – the thought of cycling on busy city roads after a life spent in the countryside didn’t appeal to me.
   Soon though, the cyclists around me started to discover ways to bypass the more dangerous bits, cycling through parks and along canals to get into uni.
   On one occasion, one of my course mates had cycled all the way home, showered and was eating lunch by the time the rest of us made it onto a bus.
   If you know the secrets of the town and aren’t afraid of exercise, cycling certainly has its benefits. If you are going to the bother of taking a bicycle make sure you use it, though.
   I’ve heard tales of bikes being locked up outside halls in September and being left there to rust all year before eventually being unlocked in May.
   It goes without saying that some of us are just too plain lazy for cycling every day.
   We’re students, after all. If this is the case, and you don’t mind splashing the cash a little, seriously consider taking your car to university.
   Initially I was dubious – I’m a student, I’m living right in the centre of Scotland’s capital. Why do I need a car?
   I have to admit I still wouldn’t consider it much myself, not only due to the expense but also the extra hassle of parking, coping with a busy city and (in Edinburgh’s case at least) learning to navigate the ever changing and never-ending tram works.
   There have been occasions where having friends with cars has come in handy for reaching far corners of Edinburgh or making that desperately needed trip to Asda or a day out to IKEA.
   Relying on a lift can work, so long as your mates aren’t the sorts who turn up with 30 seconds to spare.
   For attending lectures though I still don’t really see much of a point in driving. University campuses are never so far away that you need the comfort of a car, and often you’ll just get stuck behind buses anyway.
   Of course, if none of these take your fancy or you’re just too cheap to fork out for buses, a new bike or car insurance, you can always defy the student stereotype and walk to university.
   You may have to pay up anyway and invest in a proper jacket but who knows, it might actually be enjoyable.
   Walking can be beneficial, especially in the first few months when you don’t know the area very well.
   Explore different routes with friends and before you know it you’ll be choosing to walk over getting the bus.
   You might never be that student skipping happily through the snow, but you could at least be the one wandering along the canal in the sunshine from time to time.

WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?

WALKING
   PROS: Hoofing it to lectures won’t cost you a penny and should bring health benefits.
   CONS: Takes longer, offers little protection from the weather and God forbid could even make you tired!

DRIVING
   PROS: Avoids the need to mix with the public and you get to control the climate.
   CONS: Price of fuel is extortionate, ditto for parking costs, traffic’s a nightmare and taking the car will ensure you get negative ‘green’ points.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
   PROS: Can be cheap, sometimes reliable and will always get you there eventually.
   CONS: Crowded and potentially leaves you miles from destination.