For students without cars on campus, getting home or taking a day trip might require some additional planning. Local bus lines serve as one alternative for travelers, but between oversold trips and difficult hours, the journey home can be far from a smooth ride.
Lehigh’s website provides numerous transportation resources for families and students. Bob Bruneio, the manager of the university’s Office of Transportation, said the two main bus lines students use when traveling home or taking a trip to the city are the Carl R. Bieber Tourways and Trans-Bridge Bus Lines.
Bieber buses provide transportation to both Philadelphia and New York City, while Trans-Bridge only travels to New York City. Both Bieber and Trans-Bridge busing provide comparable pricing, Bruneio said, though they’re both more expensive than new competitor OurBus.
A round trip to Philadelphia using Bieber costs $28 and takes anywhere between an hour and a half to two and a half hours, while a round trip to New York City costs $49 and takes about the same amount of time. Using Trans-Bridge, a round trip to New York City costs $54.80 and takes about the same amount of time as the Bieber line.
Although the time it takes to travel to New York City between the two lines is similar, Bruneio said students tend to use the Bieber line more. He said there are usually no issues involving either line.
Griffin Mooney, ’19, said he has taken the Bieber bus line to both Philadelphia and New York.
“The fall of freshman year, it was very useful at the time for getting where I needed to go,” Mooney said. “But looking back on it, it wasn’t a very good experience.”
As a first-year student, Mooney was unable to have a car on Lehigh’s campus and often turned to the bus to travel long distances. On one occasion Mooney said the Bieber Philadelphia line oversold tickets, leaving fellow students and other passengers without a seat or an immediate way of getting home. He said he had to wait 30 minutes for another bus to arrive.
“It was chaotic,” Mooney said. “No one really knew what to do at the time. It is definitely way more convenient to drive my own car now.”
The new bus line OurBus has started making trips through the Lehigh Valley, transporting passengers to New York at a lower cost than its competitors. The company’s transportation planner Axel Hellman described the company as “the first discount intercity bus in the region.”
OurBus charges $16 for a one-way trip between the cities, the cheapest offer among bus companies in the area. Although the lower fees may be tempting to students on a college budget, Bruneio said OurBus is unreliable for those who are just looking to take a day trip to the city.
“It’s discounted, but there are limited runs, and the hours aren’t convenient,” Bruneio said. “The system offers a few lines of transportation in the morning to New York, but the problem is there is no way of getting back if students want to get back to campus.”
As OurBus is still growing in popularity and presence, it is not yet featured on Lehigh’s transportation website.
For first-year students and upperclassmen without cars, the buses can be a necessary means of getting home. Libby Berman, ’20, said she has taken the Trans-Bridge line to New York City seven times. Although her experiences have been mostly positive, she did have one bad encounter. Berman said during a ride home she fell asleep once with her legs on the seat and woke up with hives all over her legs.
“Besides that one time, the bus has been nothing but nice,” Berman said. “It is easier for my parents so they don’t have to drive me, and each time I go with a few of my friends. I’ve gotten home safe every time, so it gets the job done.”