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Seminole Express bus (banner)
Seminole Express bus (banner)
Original photo by Taylor Tieder

6 Tips for Surviving the FSU Bus System

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

I started my senior year off in a car and I’m ending it by taking the bus. While this wasn’t what I expected when I drove from Tampa to Tallahassee in August, it’s certainly been an enlightening experience. In many ways, my car breaking down was the best thing to happen to me. Since then, I’ve had to learn how to navigate public transportation in a city overflowing with buses. But with every effort, I’ve made rookie mistakes that set me back. Here are six tips for surviving the FSU bus system that I learned from experience.

Check Your Privilege

The first thing I had to learn was combatting my sense of privilege. It wasn’t easy to admit, but there was a lot I took for granted when I had a car, like personal safety, commute time, and an overall sense of entitlement to the road. But I had to combat my sense of shame and explore where that was coming from. There’s nothing inherently “lesser” about riding the bus, and yet I had internalized this shame about getting onboard when all my friends still had cars. Know that no one cares whether you ride the bus or drive a Ferrari, so don’t worry about what anyone will think. What matters is that you get to where you need to go.

Be Aware

Now that I regularly take the bus, I’m much more vigilant. Taking the bus means sitting on benches by yourself, waiting 30 minutes or more for a vehicle to arrive. As a woman, sitting alone on the side of a Tallahassee road is not ideal, but being aware of my surroundings has helped a lot to ward off any potential dangers.

You’ll never completely escape the men who catcall from their bikes or offer you a smoke, but if you keep your head up, act alert but polite, and have a route already prepared in your mind, they’ll leave you alone.

Download Transloc and Moovit

These apps are literal game changers. Transloc gives you exact routes from the current location to the final destination. It also provides live updates on your bus, such as whether it’s running late or about to make a stop. Moovit is a better app to use once already on the bus because it shows your location on the route and gives you notifications for when it’s time to get off. You’ll need both to survive the wild Tallahassee streets.

Plan Your Routes Ahead of Time

I can’t stress this point enough, but the bus system is notoriously unreliable. While FSU’s system runs better than I expected, many buses still come later than scheduled. It’s not fun when you’ve been waiting for a half hour, your bus is still not there, and your class starts in 10 minutes. The best thing to do is plan a route in advance, preferably the day before if you have a morning class.

Have Your FSUCard at All Times

I didn’t know this until I needed to, but riding all StarMetro buses is free for FSU students. You just need your FSUCard. When you get on the bus, there’s a little swipe station next to the driver. Once you swipe your card, you’re good to go. This was a lifesaver for me because otherwise, the rides are $1.25 each, and that starts to add up real quick.

Be Assertive

In the early days of taking the bus, I was very timid. I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t want to end up in Georgia by accident. What saved me were a few kind drivers who could clearly tell I was lost. But that won’t always be the case. Over time, I learned to ask questions, both of drivers and fellow passengers, if I was unsure of something.

Being assertive also means making yourself visible at the bus stop. I had the exact bus I needed drive right by me because I was partially hidden behind the sign. Your apps will let you know when your bus is expected to arrive, so make sure to start standing up by the sign about three to five minutes before it’s due, just in case.

Riding the bus hasn’t been the worst thing in the world. I’ve been able to read books while on board, learn how to think on my feet, and become more prepared for my travels. I hope these tips have been helpful to you, and best of luck!

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Havilah Sciabbarrasi is a senior at Florida State University and working toward a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media (AKA English). She is the current editor-in-chief of The Kudzu Review, an undergraduate literary magazine that takes submissions in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art from students all over the country. When she's not busy writing her hot takes on all things campus, entertainment, and books, she can usually be found romanticizing New York, ranting on Goodreads, or rooting through the bins at her local Goodwill.