Commuting to Campus 101


After living less than 10 minutes away from campus for over 3 years, I thought that moving to Durham and commuting to campus would be no big deal. I told myself “I’ll just make the 20-minute drive to campus and find a lot to park my car.” However, now having commuted back and forth between Chapel Hill and Durham, I realize I have grossly underestimated how big of a transition this was going to be.

For other students who are or will be commuting to campus this fall, here are a few warnings and tips for getting to campus safely and on time:

  1. Prepare Early—You may find it helpful to pack your lunch, lay out your clothes, and pack your book bag the night before in order to avoid rushing in the morning and maybe even get an extra few minutes of shut-eye.
  1. Make time for traffic! If you are driving to campus, make sure you include a cushion in your schedule for potential traffic congestion. Just like you, faculty and staff, other UNC students, and community members may also want to get to Chapel Hill by 9 am.
  1. Carpool Anyone? Talk with classmates, fellow student organization members, and/or co-workers to find out if anyone lives close by and may be willing to share the responsibility of driving to campus. This will not only be an opportunity to make a new friend, but also an opportunity to get to know your neighbors and save some gas money.
  1. Commuter Alternative Program—say what? The Commuter Alternative Program, or CAP for short, is a public transportation option available to UNC students and staff who live off-campus. With a focus on “promoting sustainable travel options” and advocating for healthier alternatives for individuals, communities, and the environment, CAP offers a variety of different rewards to Tarheels who make the option to bike, bus, rideshare, or walk to campus, including:
    1. Free rides on the Chapel Hill Transit bus system with bus stops all around Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
    2. Park & Ride lots located in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that are served by Chapel Hill Transit and offer parking options cheaper than those on campus.
    3. The Triangle Transit GoPass, a free bus pass for commuters traveling to and from Durham, Raleigh, Hillsborough, and other areas of the Triangle with convenient stops around campus.
    4. Discounts and prizes for local shops and restaurants

There are other options available too! Just know that you don’t have to sacrifice your time, money, and patience to enjoy the advantages of living off campus.

For more information about commuter options available to UNC students, please visit the UNC Department of Public Safety’s website.


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