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Local travel

At some universities you live, socialise and are taught on a single site, so there is no need for much local travel. At others, local travel between your accommodation and university can be costly and difficult – especially if you have to join commuters in the rush hour. Where different sites are spread all over town, there may be free connecting transport provided by the university; and some SUs run night-time minibuses to get students home safely.

Cash-starved students find they can walk further than they thought possible − and that a pushbike, scooter or pair of roller blades can be useful. Hitching may be possible, depending on the area, but it is not recommended for women alone, particularly after dark. Public transport always costs and it’s worth shopping around for your cheapest local travel options. In general buses are cheaper than trains, and both are usually cheaper than the tube in London.

There are sometimes (but not always) student discounts on local public transport. This usually depends on the individual company but sometimes on the university − eg in London, the 18+ Student Oyster Scheme is only available to students at participating universities; see the Transport for London website, www.tfl.gov.uk. Check out what is available locally from your SU.

National travel

You can get major discounts, on top of any cheap fares, if you get a rail and/or coach card − your ordinary student card is not enough.

Coachcards. National Express Young Person’s Coachcards are for young people aged 16–26 and for full-time students. It costs £10 for a year and gives up to 30% off National Express journeys in the UK and some Eurolines fares too. The simplest way to buy one is on the National Express website (www.nationalexpress.com).

Railcard: 16–25 Railcards are for those aged 16−25 and for full-time students. It costs £28 for a year (or £65 for a 3-year card) and gives you a third off most rail fares − though there may be certain restrictions, eg rush hour. There are also special offers with railcards, which are worth looking out for.

You can apply online (www.railcard.co.uk) and they post it to you first class. If you are applying for the first time, you need your passport number or UK driving licence number plus a passport-size photograph.

If you are over 25 or you prefer to apply in person, you can buy a railcard at a station ticket office, a rail-appointed travel agency or student travel office. If you are under 26, you will need proof of age (birth certificate, passport, driving licence or ISIC card); if you are over 26, you will need proof that you are a full-time student at a recognised institution (either an ISIC card or the mature students section of the application form completed and certified).

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