A Collegiette's Guide to the UMass Bus System

Collegiettes, let’s face it: the cold weather has officially creeped in and the walks to class have become windy and bitter. But you don't have to walk very far to class any longer with a little help from the UMass bus system. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) is here to get you to class or anywhere in the Pioneer Valley. Stay warm this winter with a few beginner’s tips on how to use the UMass Bus System!

1. Don’t fear it!

Fear is a primary reason why many have yet to use the UMass bus system. If you haven't used the buses because you're afraid of getting on the wrong bus, possibly forgetting your stop, or just because you've never tried it before, I totally understand!

However! The solution is to just try it out.

Instead of using the bus randomly to class one day without a lot of knowledge on what bus you're getting onto or where it's taking you, use one of the apps listed below on a day where you're able to take a little journey with a friend to test it out. Give yourself some time to figure it out without jumping right in if you're hesitant. Not having the pressure of getting to class on time will make your first experience on the bus more enjoyable and will make you want to use it again. Trust me — once you get it down once or twice, you’ll know what you're doing and possibly never walk to class again!

2. Google Maps > Apple Maps

When beginning to use the buses, you'll probably wonder: “which bus will get me where?” Google Maps is a super tool when you have a destination in mind. Simply plug in your destination and select public transportation for your means of travel and the exact route you need is shown with the time the bus arrives at your stop. It's labeled clearly to help you easily understand. Google Maps is by far greater than the generic “maps” app on your iPhone. The Apple Maps can incorrectly redirect you to a page that doesn't give you the necessary information to where you're going. Take it from me: skip Maps and download Google Maps now! Click here to download the app.

Pro tip: the most common routes for on-campus travels are the Campus Shuttle Northbound (Route Number 34) and the Campus Shuttle Southbound (Route Number 35).

3. Download UMass BusTrack

(For after you become more familiar with navigating the bus system with Google Maps as your first step). The app, UMass Bus Track, is great for when you already know which routes get you where and at what times. Simply click on the route you want to use and find the stop you wish to get on and the schedule is neatly displayed. Your friends will think you’re an old pro, but really you’ve just got a great app — or maybe it's both! Click here to download the app.

Pro tip: If your destination is in the name of the route or you know it’s on your way to one of the names of the route, chances are they make a stop there. It may seem self-explanatory, but it's helpful if you forget which one you're supposed to take!

4. You don’t just have to take the bus to go to class!

The PVTA has 24 member communities! The buses go way beyond campus. Use them for a fun trip with the girls to shop around Northampton or for a bite to eat in downtown Amherst. They're there for you to use and are included in tuition — so some buses will ask to see your UCard, like the B43 — but other than that, you're good to go! Explore off campus and use a bus for your next trip, whatever it may be!

Pro tip: The drivers are generally very friendly, so if you have any questions, they're there to help get you to where you're going. Go ahead and ask them your questions!

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