Things I Wish I Knew About Using Public Transportation Before Going to College

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Although I’m supposed to be a fully-functioning adult, I recently had to use public transportation on my own for the first time. Along with a lot of firsts since I’ve come to college, I learned a lot from this experience and I think I’m as prepared as I’m going to be for next time.

A few things I learned from my first solo public transportation experience are as follows:

If you’re going to be riding the city bus, wear closed-toed shoes. In retrospect, maybe I should have known this, but at least I know now. The day I first rode the city bus I didn’t expect it to rain, but Florida weather is unpredictable. I wore sandals and ended up with pretty filthy feet by the time I made it back to my apartment.

The next thing I learned is definitely common knowledge for doing anything anywhere, but of course, I had to learn the hard way. Anything can happen when taking the bus and you may not get to where you’re going in a timely manner, so make sure your phone is fully charged for a long day.

Try not to use your phone if you’re bored, especially if it’s your first time taking the city bus—you may need it if you miss a stop or for any other emergency. However, you might want to pretend you’re using it just because you’re in an unfamiliar public place, which is something I definitely understand.

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This next tip I learned from the bus driver who helped me a lot that day: If you miss your stop, get off at a stop further down, go to the stop across the street and wait for the bus on the same route going the opposite direction. The bus driver let me know that sometimes you may have to wait longer for the bus coming the opposite direction. This is what my city bus experience resorted to, on top of my dead phone.

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It’s hard to tell if you see a physical bus stop coming up when you’re riding the bus. All of the stops look different—some have benches and some don’t, so it’s better to pull the stop cord too early than miss your stop entirely. If you recognize things that look like where you should be stopping, request the stop anyway.

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A big tip is to use the restroom before you start your bus journey. If you do end up missing your stop and find yourself on the other side of town with a dead phone, in the rain, with sandals on, you never know when you’re going to see a restroom again.

Needless to say, I had a long day on the busses and gained a huge learning experience, but I hope these tips help other first-timers.