Any seasoned Duke student will tell you it’s not always a walk in the park – no pun intended – figuring out how to get from point A to point B in Durham unless you are privileged to have a car on campus. Whether you’re looking to unwind at Shooters or catch a bite of sushi off campus, you’ll find transportation is one of the major barriers to exploring Durham. But this issue has not gone unnoticed by Duke’s administration, which has worked to better integrate the university with the surrounding city in recent years. Whether you prefer public or private transportation, or simply whatever’s most convenient, it’s helpful to know your options so you don’t limit yourself to the gothic walls of Duke during your time here!
I’ve recently become an even bigger proponent of public transit since taking a course at Duke dealing with environmental conscientiousness. With more cars on the road every day, sometimes it’s nice to feel like you’re minimizing your contribution to air pollution and saving a penny here and there. There are a handful of bus systems that serve the greater Durham area, including:
Bull City Connector – This is one you’ll want to take advantage of. It’s a fare-free route co-sponsored by Duke and the city of Durham that connects campus to downtown.
Schedule: Mon-Thurs: 6:22 AM – 10 PM; Friday: 6:22 AM – Midnight; Saturday: 7:20 AM – Midnight; Holidays: 7:20 AM – 10PM)
DATA – This line services all kinds of stops in Durham, including Southpoint. A one-way trip only costs one dollar – just make sure to bring exact change.
Schedule: Daily (6 AM – Midnight);
Triangle Transit – This is the bus for traveling to Chapel Hill, Raleigh, or other out-of-town areas. One-way fare is $2.00.
For those times when you need transportation fast or you’d rather not rely on a public service, there are plenty of choices for travel. These include:
Duke Buses – Obviously there are the C-1, C-2, and C-3 routes for getting around campus. What some Duke students don’t know is that there are dozens of other Duke buses serving particular areas of Durham – for free! I find the H-5 is one of Duke transportation’s best-kept secrets, as it will take you to Erwin Square, the hospital, and Broad Street (for 9th Street shopping!). Any Duke bus with an H label is a hospital route. There are also the LaSalle Loop, PR-1, and Robertson Scholars buses. If you have an iPhone, make sure to download the free app, TransLoc. TransLoc provides real-time location and arrival information for all Duke buses.
Duke Vans – When you find yourself in a pinch at night, Duke’s on-demand van service will carry you anywhere on-campus to select off-campus locations free-of-charge. It’s helpful to program their number (919-684-2020) into your phone.
Hours: 5 PM to 7 AM
Rentable Cars/Bikes – WeCar is the car-sharing program housed at Duke that offers cars (including electric models) for pickup at various sites around campus. Duke also allows students to rent bikes at no cost from the Outpost. This works like a library loan, with bikes available for seven days at a time with the option of renewal.
Taxis – You can always resort to calling a cab when you need a ride. But beware – this is a college area and, just as in most college towns, cab rides don’t come cheap. If you’re willing to shell out the money, there are dozens of cab companies at your fingertips. Charlene’s Safe Ride (919-309-7233) is one of the companies that uses Duke’s Taxi On Points program, which allows you to pay with FLEX points. Around breaks, Duke offers a free shuttle to RDU airport.
Now there doesn’t seem to be a dearth of transportation options connecting Duke to Durham, does there? There are various services both public and private that make it easier for us students to explore our new home. A year ago, Duke launched its GoPass program to allow students and eligible employees free and unlimited access to public transit. Duke also encourages students to think about sustainability and invest in carpooling and walking. When it comes to getting around Durham, you’ll face your share of challenges, but the rewards are numerous as you get to know your home for the next several years.