I’m lucky to have a public bus stop only a block from my house!
The pandemic has slowly been easing over the past few weeks. Many restaurants, cafes, bookstores, malls, museums, and more are already open. Especially when you’re in your first year of college, getting off campus can feel pretty intimidating. Where do you go? With who? How are you going to get there? Plenty of bloggers (myself included) have written about the variety of different locations around Rochester to spend your precious free time, and I’m sure upperclassmen would be willing to give you recommendations as well. I’m here today to answer the question, once you figure out a place to go, how do you get there? From the free to the pricey, here is an exhaustive list of every way I can think of to get around Rochester.
Close by – College Town, the 19th Ward, or the South Wedge:
- Walk: I know, I sound like your parents or maybe your doctor or even your Apple Watch, telling you to get your daily 10,000 steps in. We have absolutely lovely weather for the months of September, October, and May (sometimes we get really lucky and April is nice too). Bring a friend or 3 or 4, and your walk to Tai Chi for bubble tea turns into a hangout of its own.
- UR Shuttles: If you’re not using the U of R shuttles, you’re massively underutilizing a great resource on campus (and a free one at that!) I would absolutely recommended the Double Map app so you can see what buses are running, and where they are, and if they’re late, from anywhere on or off campus. I’ve used the buses to get to Wegmans, every coffee shop within a five-minute walk of the Eastman School ofMusic, Kodak Hall for concerts, Regal Theater for movies, you get the idea.
- Rollerblades/Ripstick/Hoverboard/Razor Scooter: Augmenting yourself with a device that makes the daily drudgery of getting around just a little more fun is an A+ idea. Bring whatever your device is of choice to college, and you’ll always have a fun way and easy way to get around (I would NOT, however, recommend using such devices in the winter. Walking is dangerous enough with the ice and snow).
Medium far – Downtown Rochester, Brighton, other surrounding towns:
- Bikes: I would definitely recommend getting a bike, especially if you end up living in the Rochester area over the summer. There aren’t a ton of bike paths, but biking on and around campus is very common – although please get a bell! The number of near misses I’ve seen on campus is scary. We have bike racks around campus, but some people also bring their bikes into their dorm rooms to protect them from the elements (definitely clear this with your roommate first). Or, if you don’t want to deal with the logistics of actually buying and bringing a bike to school, the university just introduced HOPR bikes, where you can pay-as you-ride for the price of $1 to unlock a bike and 15 additional cents per minute.
- Scooters: Along that same line, HOPR scooters are also available! They’re a little more expensive ($1 to unlock and 27 cents per minute), but in my personal opinion, nothing currently beats the novelty of scootering around Rochester. Both the HOPR scooters and bikes offer single-day and month-long passes if you prefer that to pay-as-you-ride.
- Rochester City Buses: If you want to travel outside of where the shuttles take you, the RTS city buses are a great way to get a little farther off campus. Fares are $1 for most buses, and full schedules and maps are available on the RTS website.
- Uber/Lyft: I would recommend downloading both ride-sharing apps for the duration of your time at college – each one differs in times they offer the cheapest rides, what discounts they offer, and what drivers will be most easily available to pick you up. And remember to leave good reviews and tips for your drivers!
Far far away – Day trips, weekend getaways, or strategies for getting home if your parents aren’t able to pick you up:
- Zipcar: I would really encourage first-years to get a student Zipcar membership if they don’t have a car on campus. If you get it through the school’s program, your membership is only $15 a year, and cars are usually only around $8 for a half hour. That can be a lot cheaper than most Ubers. They have day rates as well, AND you don’t have to pay for gas. I can’t tell you how many times my friends had me use my zipper to drive them to the airport because the 30 min fee was cheaper than an Uber. The only constraint is that these cars do need to be returned to campus after every trip.
- Rental Car: This is something I like to tell all new and prospective students – the myth that you have to be over 25 to rent a car is NOT TRUE…at least not in New York state. There is a bit of a catch – they do add extra fees on if you are under 25 or 21, but it is doable! My friends and I have split rental cars a few times, and it ends up being only around $30-40 per person. We’ve driven to Canada to see Shakespeare performances, to Buffalo for concerts, and I even drove home to surprise my brother for his senior play (it was 10 hours of driving in a day and a half – think carefully before you embark on journeys like this). And because rental car dealerships exist all over, you can often use them as one way travel if you have another way to get back.
- Amtrak/Greyhound: When I bought last minute ticket to see Anastasia on Broadway the week before it closed, Greyhound was there for me. When my friends and I have needed to get home for breaks, the Rochester Amtrak station Just make sure you let your Uber driver know which one you’re going to, as they come up as the same location on Google Maps even thought they’re about a block apart.
- Or, you know, you could always make friends with someone who has a car of their own. Happy travels!