By Megan McConnell, Academic Counselor, UAA Advising
As a large urban university, the University of Washington has a wealth of many things... research opportunities, renowned faculty, student activities, connections to local business and industry. But parking? Well, parking isn’t something in great supply around here. Unless you choose to live on campus, a commute is in your future.
One foot in front of another
Sometimes the commute is very short. In the U District itself there are a wide variety of rental properties, and many students live there and simply walk. During the day, the pedestrian population in the U District is very active, so these students find themselves in good company. At night, there are fewer people out and about and pedestrians should think about ways to ensure their safety. Walk with a friend, stay on lighted pathways and sidewalks, use the Night Ride Shuttle.
Who needs four wheels?
From farther afield, there are more options. Biking is one. With the Burke Gilman trail skirting the perimeter of campus, many students find this a great option, one that gives them exercise and some mental “down” time while they get to and from. May is National Bike Month, in fact, and the UW Bicycle Hubbub will be held along the Burke Gilman Trail in the park between University Way NE and Brooklyn Avenue on Thursday, May 25 from 4-7 p.m. There will be live music, snacks, give-aways, bike adjustments, maps, bike information, and more.
For Meredith Stone, a Community, Environment, and Planning major who transferred from Seattle Central Community College, biking is just the thing. “I love riding my bike and getting that time for myself before I start my day. It’s great exercise and is invigorating, and I love not using my car for pollution reasons, not to mention how hard it would be to park in the U District!” She says biking seemed daunting before she started actually doing it but now “it’s the quickest and most rewarding way” to get to campus for her. Her bike ride from the Greenwood neighborhood takes her 20 minutes, but when foul weather prevails, her bus ride takes more like 45.
Stone recommends others interested in biking to and from campus get their bikes ready for a commute. The bike shop she went to recommended she use different tires and added a basket to hold her backpack, which she says was really great advice. She uses her UPASS when she’s got her bike and is headed for somewhere other than home that is difficult to bike to—she just throws her bike on the bike racks on the front of the bus and off she goes. Plus, her UPASS gives her a great discount on bike tune-ups. Galen Erickson, a transfer from North Seattle Community College who is majoring in International Political Economy and primarily bikes for his commute, adds that the ASUW bike shop is “way cheaper than any other bike shop and is totally student run.” For more information about biking as a commuting option, check out the UPASS biking website at:
The wheels on the bus go round and round
The bus is another great option for students traveling from further distances. Students pay $41 each quarter for a UPASS, which gives them full fare coverage on Metro Transit, Community Transit, and Sound Transit buses. (It also gives them full fare coverage on Sounder commuter train service, discounted parking when they ride or drive with someone else, free rides on the Night Ride Shuttle, subsidized vanpool fares, and discounts at businesses—what a deal!)
For Corina Graebner, a junior who transferred from Spokane Community College, parking around the UW was extremely difficult so she began taking the bus from her Greenwood-area home. She can spend the 20-30-minute commute studying, and she likes that she doesn’t have to worry about traffic. Her least favorite part about bussing, however, is waiting for the bus in the rain or in cold weather. Unlike Graeber, Myung Chee, an anthropology major who transferred from Seattle Central Community College, cannot read or study on the bus. Car sickness—or shall we call it bus sickness?—would be the result. But his commute from downtown takes only 15 minutes, faster than it would take by car, so he can just rest and enjoy the ride.
Share the ride
Students who purchase a UPASS and then commute together receive discounted parking on campus. Carpools of 3 or more may park on upper campus for 78 cents a day, or carpools of 2 or more may park down the hill in the Montlake parking area adjacent to the IMA for 60 cents a day.
The other option for students who live at least 10 miles away from the Seattle campus is vanpooling. A vanpool consists of 5 to 15 people who commute together in a van that is owned, maintained and insured by Metro Transit, Community Transit, Island Transit or Kitsap Transit. Vans have the added speed of using HOV lanes and on-ramps, and van riders get to read, study, nap, or just relax. Drivers don’t get to do those things, but they do get their UPASS and limited personal use of the van for free. Vanpools park without charge in any UW parking lot. For information about joining a vanpool or starting one, go to www.rideshareonline.com.
However you decide to get to campus, the UW maintains an excellent website on your commuting options. Get started at the UPASS website: