Going to school in the Bay Area provides me with so many opportunities for adventure! From hiking the local preserves and lounging on the beaches of Santa Cruz to touring multi-million dollar companies headquartered just minutes from campus or catching a Giants game in San Francisco, I am never bored. Most weekends you can find me exploring a new part of the Bay Area with friends, but it isn’t always easy to get where I want to go. As you may imagine being a college student without a car has it’s difficulties, however, I haven’t let that cut my weekly adventures short!
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) provides plenty of transit options within the valley and can connect you to transit systems in other regions. Their routes run all the way from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and everywhere in between. They have stops at the Santa Clara Transit Center, which is right across from SCU’s main entrance. The VTA offers buses, shuttles, and light rails (train). The majority of their routes are within the Santa Clara Valley and can get you to major shopping areas, parks, and stadiums (like the SAP Center, Levi's Stadium, or Avaya Stadium). The VTA is very affordable, a single ride on most bus routes is only $2 or a day pass for $6 and there are many different types of plans for frequent riders that help save money. The VTA even offers a free shuttle from the Santa Clara Transit Center to the San Jose Airport!
Another public transit option is the CalTrain, also located in the Santa Clara Transit Center. These trains runs every hour (sometimes more during rush hour) all the way from San Francisco to Gilroy. I take this often to visit my brother in Palo Alto or go to SF with my friends for the weekend. I highly recommend using the CalTrain, it is fast and super easy! A day pass to SF is around $19 and only $11 to get to Palo Alto and back. And if you are 18 or younger the fare is almost half price!
If you are looking to go out for dinner with friends or to Target for some dorm room goodies I would recommend Uber or Lyft. Both ridesharing apps are easy to use and the service is quick, safe, and personal. The average trip to Target and back usually costs me a total of $15 and if you split it with a friend than even better! Zipcar is another alternative option for car rentals through campus. Santa Clara has quite a few Zipcars and all it requires is a fee and a driver license to rent. These can be handy if you have lots of errands to run.
It can be more difficult, costly or inconvenient to have a car at school as an international student. For the second year, I have managed without a personal vehicle and with so many other options I don’t see a need for one. Santa Clara’s policy is that first-year students are not allowed to have cars on campus until sophomore year. Parking passes can be purchased through the school and there are various parking lots around campus that are available to students. As a sophomore I am lucky enough to have a few friends with vehicles. This makes it much easier to get off campus and I know if the VTA, CalTrain, or rideshare apps won’t work I can ask my friends for help.
With so many transit options I have managed to explore quite a bit of the Bay Area and I plan to see as much as I can before I graduate! I hope this gives you a brief overview off all the transit options around campus and if you are ever looking for something to do in the area just ask, I’d be happy to share!