Cheap, easy transportation alternatives for students

The light rail passes by the station on Rural and Apache road on Sept. 26. A recently won federal grant will be used to expand the light rail an additional 5 miles in Phoenix. (Photo by Emily Johnson) The light rail passes by the station on Rural and Apache road on Sept. 26, 2014. A recently won federal grant will be used to expand the light rail an additional 5 miles in Phoenix. (Photo by Emily Johnson)

Students without cars can have trouble getting around. Here's a look at some of your transportation options.


For short trips here and there, Zipcars provide a smart alternative to owning a car, especially for students. This form of transportation allows students to rent a car before they’re 21 at a discounted rate through their university.

There are just a few rules. Students must be at least 18 and have had their license for at least one full year to qualify. After the online application is approved, a “Zipcard” will be sent through the mail, which allows students to unlock the cars they want to use.

Cars can be reserved online for either a few hours or an entire day. These vehicles are great for shopping, because you can drop your bags in the car before you’re done, unlike Uber or the Light Rail. Zipcar even provides a card for gas so customers don’t have to pay. The only fees for students are the cost of the car by the hour and the $25 annual fee. If you’re running late, you can extend the reservation as long as another person hasn’t reserved it right after you. However, Zipcars can get rather expensive if they’re reserved for a long period of time.


Taking an Uber to get where you need to be is a lot like taking a taxi, but more affordable and a little bit safer. Advertised as “everyone’s personal driver,” Uber will pick you up and drop you off just about anywhere.

To start using the service, just download the Uber app and put in a credit or debit card number. Then input where you’d like to be picked up and dropped off and Uber will find the nearest driver. Uber keeps track of where you’re going, who the driver is and what kind of car they’re driving. It’s fairly affordable too, especially if you split a trip between a few people. It’s a better option than Zipcar for days when you’ll be gone a long time and don’t want to pay by the hour.

The best part about Uber is that you can get one pretty much any time of the day. However the farther you travel, the more expensive the ride becomes and Uber will increase their rates during times when there aren’t a lot of drivers out, such as late hours and holidays.

Intercampus Shuttles

This is the most affordable and direct way to get between campuses. Shuttles leave every 30 minutes during the week, every hour on the weekends and travel between all four campuses. The best part about the shuttles: they’re absolutely free. All you need is your ASU student ID.

Maroon shuttles travel between Tempe, Downtown, and West. Gold shuttles travel between Tempe and Polytechnic.

Of course these are only useful for commuting to other ASU locations, unless the place you’re going is in walking distance of a campus. So if you’re looking to go out, it might not be the best way to get there. The shuttles also don’t run 24 hours a day so they won’t be ideal for going places very early in the morning or late in the evening. To view the full schedule for the shuttles visit

Metro Light Rail

With discounted daily tickets for students and annual passes available, the Light Rail is a cheap way to get around Phoenix and Tempe. The Light Rail costs $1 per ride, $2 a day or $200 a year for students. Trains leave every 12 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends, and make several conveniently located stops.

It’s an easy way for both Downtown and Tempe students to get between campuses, to nearby stores and the airport. As it is public transportation, you may run into some interesting people along the way, and it’s always better to travel in groups.

The Light Rail is a reliable way to get from point A to point B; it’s not ideal for big shopping trips or late nights out. It shuts down around 11 p.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends, and can be packed during busy times of the day. For more information visit


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