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Hop on the intercampus shuttle: It might change your life

ASU students have the opportunity to expand their horizons by easily exploring different campuses

Students board the Maroon Shuttle on ASU’s Tempe campus on Dec. 1, 2016. ASU’s intercampus shuttle system allows students to travel between all five campuses.
Students board the Maroon Shuttle on ASU’s Tempe campus on Dec. 1, 2016. ASU’s intercampus shuttle system allows students to travel between all five campuses.

You've seen them before: the double-decker buses that are a bright yellow color, which is obnoxiously un-gold, with bolded letters on the side that announce to the world just who's "#1 in innovation." But if you don't regularly commute between campuses, you probably simply ignore the intercampus shuttles, thinking to yourself how nice it is that everything you need is on one campus.

The truth is, everything you need isn't simply on one campus. So while it may sound like an exaggeration, hopping on an intercampus shuttle might just change your life.

As a freshman living on the Tempe campus, I was convinced that everything I could ever need was squared away between Rural Road and Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard and University Drive. Huge library? Check. Competitive sports teams with impressive arenas? Check. Grassy fields and brick buildings? Check. On top of all that, 227 majors ranging from biophysics to justice studies are offered in Tempe. For me, ASU Tempe was like a one-stop shop on Black Friday.

Then, the second semester of my freshman year, I took a professional Spanish class offered on the Downtown Phoenix campus. When I got off the intercampus shuttle downtown for the first time, I felt like I was in a different world. Things were busy, but in a way much different than the business of Tempe. People walked quickly, the news was always on somewhere, and tall office buildings towered above my head. Being downtown came with a distinct feeling that I was part of a community bigger than my campus.

One afternoon, I wandered into the Cronkite building. It was exciting to see all that the journalism school had to offer and to feel the buzz of important, real things happening all around me. After doing some research, I added a journalism major – something I had never expected to do.

Each of ASU's four valley campuses is its own world – complete with different environments, unique perspectives and diverse people.

ASU describes itself as "One university in many places," a saying which is certainly true. ASU's West campus, for example, offers a liberal arts education and is known for being a "courtyard-fashioned campus."

The Polytechnic campus, on the other hand, is recognized for its focus on "project-based learning," especially in science and engineering fields, and it offers unique degrees like food industry management and aeronautical management technology.

The "professional, fast-paced" environment of the Downtown Phoenix campus keeps students well-connected and involved, and the Tempe campus offers extensive research opportunities and a traditional college campus feel.

Thanks to the intercampus shuttle system, while it may take some time, moving between all of ASU's unique campuses is relatively easy. According to Shereen Shaw, a communications specialist for ASU Parking and Transit Services, shuttle service to the West campus began in fall of 1992, and expanded to the other campuses as they opened.

Now, the shuttles transport about 5,000 students a day.

"We have enhanced the service tremendously over the years to now include weekend service and class break service," said Shaw of the intercampus shuttle system. "It's a fabulous way to connect students to all the campuses for academic purposes and extracurricular activities."

The Maroon and Gold shuttles, for example, depart every half hour, a frequency which Shaw cites as a major improvement in service in the last three or four years.

Nevertheless, for many students who commute between campuses, spotty Wi-Fi connectivity and the timeliness of shuttles have been major concerns.

"The Wi-Fi connections available on the shuttles are similar to those on an airplane, and as such, passengers should expect slightly slower connections at times as the vehicle is moving throughout the valley," Shaw said.

In order to preserve available bandwidth for students doing homework, sites like Netflix or gaming platforms are blocked on the shuttle Wi-Fi. In response to timeliness concerns, Shaw cited the shuttles' 90-percent on-time performance rating.

The intercampus shuttles, while they may seem mundane, allow students to explore beyond their campus. You never know what you might find at another campus – an inspiring professor, a thought-provoking academic program or an off-the-beaten-path study spot.

At least once during your time at ASU, you should try to take a class away from your home campus. If that's not feasible, at least attend an event away from home. It's a big world out there, and it's time to pop your campus bubble.

Don't be so sure that a few trips on a free double-decker bus won't change your life – they changed mine. 

Reach the columnist at or follow  @MiaAArmstrong on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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