My first two years here, only one of my friends had a car on campus. Getting to borrow it felt was like winning the lottery! Being new to the area, there were so many towns with cute cafes, stores, and museums to explore. Of course, when I didn't have it, I was still able to get off campus by taking a PTVA bus or Ubering.
This year, about half of my friends have cars. While it's amazing having basically unlimited to access to a car, I’ve also noticed some #struggles that only drivers on campus know. Here’s a list of pros and cons of having a car on campus:
Pro: Decreases commute time
If you tend to be chronically late, like me (I’m working on it), having a car may benefit you. It’s always nice when I wake up five minutes before my class starts, and, instead of having to walk 15 minutes to get there, I can catch a ride and be dropped off in four minutes. Not saying a car is a cure to lateness, but it can serve as a bandage.
Con: Have to yield to pedestrian foot traffic
Having a car doesn’t necessarily guarantee a faster commute. Pedestrians become your biggest road block — especially right before of after classes. Its like catching every red light, and the red lights are spaced every 200 feet, and they last for three minutes each.
Pro: Allows you to easily hit off-campus restaurants
Between downtown and Route 9, there are so many tasty and affordable places to eat near campus. Downtown has Antonio’s Pizza, Glazed Doughnuts, Starbucks, and Bueno Y Sano, to name a few. Along Route 9, you can find Chipotle, Dunkin', Johnny’s Roadside Diner, Pulse Plant-Based Cafe, Hot Table, and many more.
Con: On-campus parking spots are limited in certain areas
Back on campus, the best parking spaces are all first come, first served. Finding an open spot next to the rec center, library, and dining commons is pretty rare. That being said, the difference between the best spots and the less-desired spots is a matter of a few additional minutes of walking. There is a giant parking garage right by Campus Center, which lets you park and walk into the middle of campus without setting foot outside (pretty great if it's raining). There are also bigger lots situated around campus that people with appropriate parking passes can use.
Pro: Enables you to take trips to neighboring towns
Northampton is an artsy town, rich with quality dining, entertainment, and shopping opportunities. Springfield is also a neat place with lots of volunteer opportunities. Having a car allows you to get to these places easily. Plus, there really is nothing like picking up all your friends and talking about life with the windows down and music blasting. I value quality time with friends more than anything, and it's even more special when we’re able to be together in our own space.
At the end of the day, having a car on campus can definitely make things more convenient. If you don't have one, however, do not fear! The PTVA bus system allows students without cars to go pretty much anywhere that people with cars can go. I am probably going to go all four years without my own car on campus, and thats okay! I am still able to go anywhere I want to go and have an amazing college experience.