Mastering Public Transportation

As is the case for many new city-dwellers, the moving van you used to move to your new place may be the last vehicle you drive for a while. Recent numbers suggest that the amount of young people driving is on the downturn, and it just happens to be that a lot of young people are now living in cities.

So what’s a newcomer to the city supposed to do? Thankfully, most major cities have awesome public transportation. These systems can seem scary to an outsider, but in reality most of the systems are pretty well laid out. I know from my experiences in Washington DC, public transit is the best way to get around, so it’s better just to dive head first than to try to figure it out little by little. Don’t worry though — we’re here to help you along the way. You’ll be an expert in no time with these tips below.

U-Haul public transit
This jumbled mess of spaghetti actually means something. With some practice you will know what it means too! (Flickr CC/dbking)

 Figure Out Fares

The first step in becoming a master of public transit is knowing how you’re going to pay for it. Do some research online beforehand and figure out what the best way of paying is. Many systems offer discounts for customers who sign up for monthly cards or reusable plastic cards instead of daily paper fares. This works out for you, the customer, because public transit can add up. Think of it like a gas station that offers a two different prices for paying with cash or credit.

While you figure out how to pay, also check out price schemes. Many transit systems have different prices for on-peak and off-peak travel. If you can adjust your schedule to fit, off peak travel may work in your favor.

Map the Route

Once you’ve figured out where you need to go, map the route before you make the first trip. Google Maps offers a great public transit feature that is built right into the search. It includes real time updates and timetables to make your trip the quickest and most efficient trip possible.

U-haul public transit
Many buses have bike racks available for commuters to use on their trip. (Flickr CC/Metro Cincinnati)

Also take some time to practice the route. If you have an extra day off or free time on the weekend, take public transit as you would on any other normal day just to explore and get your bearings.

Use Multiple Methods of Transport

If you brought your car along with you on an Auto Transport, don’t worry, you can still drive your car in the city! A popular method of everyday commuters is to drive to your particular stop and then park the car there. If you don’t have your car that’s ok too — a lot of people bring their bike with them and either lock it up at their particular “home station” or bring it along with them. Biking, walking and even driving yourself to a particular location can help you save lots of time in the long run. (And be sure to check out the best apps for biking too!)

Follow Social Media Handles

Twitter and Facebook, along with other social media platforms, make the life of a public transit user much easier. Most public transit systems have social media profiles that regularly tweet and post about delays, interruptions and other news items that could impact your trip. Instead of waiting at the bus stop for an hour before figuring out that a bus is never coming, you can know that that bus will never show up before you even leave your door. You can follow New York City, Phoenix, Washington DC and others on Twitter for regular updates. To find your city, google the transit operators name and “twitter” or find the “contact us” page on their website.

Apps will also help you a lot. Each city has many official and third-party apps available for public transportation systems. A google search will unearth plenty of results.

Ask Questions

Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. You’d much rather ask the question than waste your time or get lost on the system. Many people feel dumb asking questions — don’t feel dumb. Trust me, you’re not the only one who has asked that question before.

Are you a public transportation master? Do you take the train on a daily basis? Are there any tips that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.