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A CU Student’s Guide to the Buff Bus and Boulder Bus System

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

I know that using public transportation can be a very intimidating task to those who have never used it before. It’s difficult to become familiar with which routes take you to which place and at what time. Luckily, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully travel around campus and the Boulder area so you don’t have to worry about hopping on the wrong bus. 

Kicking Off Fall Semester

As the 2021 Fall semester jumps into gear here at CU, many undergraduate and graduate students alike find themselves scrambling across campus to seek out the nearest bus stops and quickest routes to be on time for their classes. For many living off-campus, and especially those who are from out of state, having a car on campus is a luxury that most cannot relate to. Sure, biking will get the job done, but once a few feet of snow pile up on the ground, which is not uncommon for Boulder, biking no longer becomes a realistic option. 

Buff Bus to the Rescue

Luckily for all CU students, the school-sanctioned Buff Bus provides free public transportation to Williams Village via the Will Vill buses, Bear Creek Apartments via Bear Creek Express, Exposition Drive via the Marine Street bus, and Discovery Drive via the Stampede bus. The Williams Village line picks up and drops off students at various clockwise locations along Colorado Avenue and 28th street, with a stop at the Center for Community, whereas Bear Creek Express has one additional stop before Bear Creek, on the corner of Euclid Avenue and 18th Street near the University Memorial Center. The Marine Street bus takes mainly upperclassmen and graduate students to East Campus but more specifically the stops on Exposition Drive and Marine Street. Stampede is the final line within the Buff Bus system and it is another East Campus bus that has stops along Colorado Avenue and Discovery Drive. Each of the routes throughout Main Campus have different stops, so it’s vital to pay attention to which line you’re taking. 

Hours of Operation

While the buses are a fantastic way to get around campus, they, unfortunately, do not run all day every day. The Williams Village Limited Bus runs from 7 am to 3 pm every day Monday through Friday with no routes on the weekend, while the Williams Village Full Route Bus runs from 3 pm to 11 pm Monday through Friday, with operation times from 10 am to 11 pm on weekends. Bear Creek Express has a route that is only available during the weekdays from 7 am to 3 pm. Marine Street additionally runs only through Monday and Friday starting at 9:15 am and lasting until 3 pm. Lastly, the Stampede Bus is in operation from 7 am to 11 pm on weekdays with no service on Saturdays and Sundays. Typically, each bus comes every 7-12 minutes during school days, with the exception of weekend service throughout the Williams Village Full Route, where the bus tends to come every 30 minutes. If you just so happen to miss the bus for some reason after the operation hours, CU Night Ride is a wonderful alternative to help get you to your destination affordably and safely. 

Timing with Transit

Speaking as a second-year Williams Village resident, I can confidently say the most important tool to have handy is the Transit app, found on your phone’s app store. Transit is compatible with both IOS operating systems and Android operating systems and is definitely a staple resource to have at your fingertips. By providing you real-time travel estimates and direct line suggestions, Transit is able to help you plan your day and visualize your location in relation to the closest bus stops near you. Transit also provides a program called “GO” where your peers can submit a short survey to share how crowded the bus is to those who are waiting at following stops. Transit additionally allows students to contribute to improving the real-time estimates of the bus by tracking their location while in transit. 

City Routes and Regional Access with RTD

Additionally with Transit, you have access to all local and regional working bus routes, and as a CU student, all fares are waived, meaning you can travel nearly anywhere within Colorado for a free or reduced cost just by bringing your RTD bus pass. City routes that are available for student use are the HOP, SKIP, and JUMP buses that run throughout downtown Boulder and main campus. Regional bus access includes all RTD buses, which conveniently travel from the Boulder area to locations such as the Denver International Airport which is greatly beneficial to my out-of-state friends. Similar to the Buff Bus, the Transit app will provide real-time arrival and departure estimates, and travel directions for city and regional routes to make public transportation easier. 

Travel Safely

It is very important to remember that Boulder County is still under a mask mandate for enclosed spaces with poor ventilation which includes all bus systems throughout the city. Make sure you are masking up to protect your community, and always stay vigilant on public transportation. With these helpful tips, you and your friends will be able to ride the Boulder bus system like pros. Stay safe and don’t forget to protect our herd!

Jordan Saladino

CU Boulder '24

Jordan is from a small town in the western suburbs of Chicago and is very passionate about the arts and sciences. Her interests include psychology, creating mixed-media artwork, and spending time outdoors.