Living off-campus is a popular choice for many students, whether they’re looking to get away from draconian dorm life, venture out to the fringes of fraternity and sorority life, or play it cheap by staying at home. When it comes to a distant class commute, though, trekking from afar becomes a drag when you rely on your own set of wheels. Mass transit, on the other hand, can save you fistfuls of dollars and hours of precious time, as well as optimize the overall efficiency of your college experience. Take the bus to

Maximize your available study time:

Yes, it will almost always take longer to arrive at your destination when you’re sharing a ride with a caboodle of commuters, but the time spent traveling is all yours, meaning you invariably have more time to get stuff done on the bus than you would with your hands tied to the wheel, no matter how many unscheduled stops are made. At first, the clatter and chatter of the bus and its occupants serve as blaring distractions, but within a few rides, your body’s natural habituation kicks in, diminishing the hustle and bustle to workable levels. Building a tolerance to the racket of mass transit will in turn bolster your ability to deflect other potential interruptions elsewhere, wherever they may be.

Say buh-bye to car & gas expenses:

Corporate partnerships between higher ed institutions and companies are the ire of many a college student, from student ID cards doubling as unsolicited debit cards to required online access codes unavailable on the secondhand market. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to these unsavory affiliations: most colleges arrange for reduced or free bus fare for their students. You don’t need me to tell you that petrol prices are too damn high, so let transit authorities cover the tab for fuel. And just because you’re considering taking the bus doesn’t mean you need to stop driving altogether. Should you need your own car for work, say pizza delivery, electing to board the bus when you’re not distributing dough will alleviate much wear and tear to your vehicle in the long run, not to mention reduce the number of trips to the only place worse than the pump, the mechanic.

Shuttle your bicycle:

More on that whole not-taking-the-bus-everywhere idea: many busses make it easy to fasten a bike to the grill, for when it’s just too nice outside to sit out the whole commute round-trip. This enables you to review notes one last time for a big exam aboard coach, before unstrapping your two-wheeler to work off the test stress and/or celebrate your performance in fresh air on the way home. Check your local transit authority’s website ahead-of-time for instructions on bike-loading if you want to come across as a regular as soon as your first try at it. If not, no sweat — it’s not rocket science.

Meet new people:

Although I do know (totally normal) people who have fallen in love on the bus, clearly, it is not the most romantic place. However, with the right approach, the bus is conducive to converting strangers to friends, or at the very least, striking up unforeseen conversations that add an element of spontaneity to your day. Feel free to engage others in a friendly manner, but don’t feel guilty if you get snubbed: keep in mind there will always be riders wanting nothing more than to get from point A to point B, banter-free. All-in-all, as long as you keep at it, you can meet some pretty neat people from diverse backgrounds you wouldn’t have had the chance to get in touch with elsewhere.

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

Even though our current modes of transportation still have miles to go in the way of energy-efficiency, Mother Nature can still enjoy a quick respite from her modernday misery whenever we take the energy-conscious decision to share a vehicle with others. Sharing-is-caring aside, approximately one out of five busses runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), a preferable alternative to petrol and diesel when you consider it has the capacity to emit up to 25% less carbon dioxide and 97% less carbon monoxide, as well as spew forth fewer carcinogenic pollutants than its conventional counterparts.

About the Author: Benjamin Payne is a freshman at Black Hawk College, located on the stinky banks of the Mississippi River, where he plans on majoring in journalism. He is pro-Chihuahua, anti-twisty tie, and thinks you should pitch in what you can to your local NPR affiliate. Follow this strange individual @btpayne.