After taking the easy way out and living on campus for my first two years, I finally gave up on the high rent and tiny rooms and moved back home. My house is only five miles from my school, but the streets that surround the University of South Florida in Tampa are daunting. Not only are they super busy with drivers who don't watch for pedestrians when turning, but some of them go through neighborhoods nobody should be passing through alone. And as a young (and poor) environmentalist, this has proven to be a challenge for me. You see, I don’t own a car; yet as a full time student I have to safely make it to and from school
and home, four days a week.
I have a few options though. One involves bugging friends and or parents to give me a lift, but the more independent (and less annoying on my behalf) option is to take the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART)
to and from school. HART line was created in 1979 to provide public transportation for Hillsborough County. Going on 30 years now, the HART line has 31 routes
that serve the bay area and the USF campus, and they continue to look for ways to improve their routes
. One of the ways they have found to best serve the community is to provide free rides for students
with a valid USF ID. Noting the amount students use the buses (especially in the immediate campus area), HART is in the process of enhancing services
for USF students, which will add more buses on the routes and decrease waiting times.
As if HART didn't provide enough services already, they also qualify riders for the free Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program. According to the guidelines listed on the ERH website
: "[i]f you carpool, vanpool, ride the bus, bicycle or walk to work at least two (2) days a week, you may be eligible for a FREE* (or low cost) taxi ride home" in certain cases (i.e. work late, get sick, etc).
With the combination of HART line and ERH, there is no reason for me not to use public transportation to get to school. Not only am I saving on the cost of a car, gas, car insurance and maintenance, but while somebody drives me to school I can be reading and/or listening to music on my iPod. Plus, for USF students, HART line is absolutely free; that's something no college student should pass up!