As I entered my freshman year, I was nervous about coming to UR without a car, the ultimate freedom that I had become accustomed to during high school. I had heard on my tours of the River Campus that there were free Rochester city buses to bring me all around, but I was unconvinced.

Enter RED day, a part of Freshman Orientation for the class of 2009 where we were encouraged to take the Red Line downtown and discover the Rochester Every Day businesses near the Eastman Living Center and Park Avenue. Then, enter my discouragement with the bus system two of the girls on my hall were left stranded without a bus to take them home.

Fortunately for me, I did not let that become my last bus experience at UR. I found joy in heading to Spot Coffee for a day of studying, stopping on Park Ave. for some lunch or going to Marketplace Mall on a Saturday as a break from studying. And this was even when UR still used Rochester’s Regional Transit Service buses, which were highly unreliable and had quite a sketchy appearance.

We are now blessed with First Transit reliable, comfortable and clean buses with friendly drivers and yet so many students fail to take advantage of the free service provided to us. It’s a pity that so many of us limit ourselves because we don’t have a car easily at our fingertips. For people like me who are from a rural area and are used to the necessity of driving everywhere, it is easy to forget that such a convenient service exists.
I know so many people who choose not to go out and explore the city of Rochester, and they do not realize how easy it is to do so. There is plenty for the city to offer, all within walking distance of the Red Line one of my favorites is the George Eastman House. The Red Line is great due to the fact that it runs at least once an hour on weekdays and somewhat regularly on the weekends.

One hidden gem of the city I found particularly exciting comes via the Green Line on Saturday mornings. Though it’s painful to wake up so early in the morning, one step into the Public Market will make you realize it’s worth the dreary eyes. The Public Market provides tons of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, along with various other foods, for a reasonable price. With the free transportation, it becomes an offer you can’t refuse!

Though I rave about the bus system, it isn’t flawless. For example, on Sunday I really wanted to go to Park Ave. for a nice dinner off campus. However, after looking at the Sunday schedule, I realized that the Red Line only goes to the Eastman Living Center on a direct route on Sundays. Sunday is just as good a day to get out on the weekend as Saturday, and I am sure many students would take advantage of the ability to get to Park Ave. both days of the weekend. In addition, it makes it particularly difficult for students who live in this area to come to campus to study or for club meetings. It would be beneficial if Parking and Transportation Services looked into student demand for this route.

Despite the problems here and there, I learned that the shuttle system provides a freedom I feared I wouldn’t be able to have when I came to UR. There’s a great deal of Rochester that is out there and fun to explore, and the buses provide an easy, cheap way to take advantage of it.

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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