The Freshman Guide: Campus Transportation
This guide is part of The Underground’s Freshman Guide series. For more first year tips, be sure to check out our other guides.
One of the most important things to know on campus is how to get around. While the blue and white loops, and green and red links may seem confusing now, they’ll be your best friends when it comes to commutes across campus or inclement weather.
CATA Bus Service
On campus, the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), Centre county’s public transportation authority, works with the university to offer four bus routes around campus.. These routes are free, and all you have to do is hop on. You read that correctly. No ID, no money, just hop on and hop off when needed.
- Sometimes referred to as the “Bloop,” the Blue Loop will likely be your most frequented bus. The route runs clockwise around campus about every 5-12 minutes during peak hours (M-F 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.) hitting all the good stops: East Halls, the library, Bryce Jordan Center, the HUB and even downtown on College Ave.
- Pro-tip: all the on campus buses stop at the Pattee Transit Center (better known as the library). No need to pull the string. Seriously, just don’t do it.
- Apparently people call this the “whoop.” I think that’s ridiculously lame. Any-who, the white loop is a saving grace for all who live in downtown State College apartments and for freshman who want a quick ride to the library or the Forum Building from East Halls. In addition to running counter-clockwise around campus, this bus goes downtown on Beaver Avenue. For those who like to party…uh I mean study late at night, it runs until 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
- And just like the blue loop, this bus suffers from overcrowding as well. Upperclassmen could tell you countless stories of how the bus has passed the Meridian stop on cold snowy days without letting people on because it was full.
- While not as often used, this bus is still really important because it stops at the Mt. Nittany Medical Center as well as Innovation Park, or what Penn State calls the”ecosystem where business, education and research come together.” If you ever need to visit the hospital for any reason (like getting a concussion playing IM soccer), this bus will get you there and back. In addition, if you’re a College of Communications student, you’ll probably need this bus as a few classes as well as extracurricular clubs are housed out there. Also, if you’re headed to the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center for a fancy banquet, the bus makes a stop there, too.
- This bus is somewhat of an enigma for a lot of students who live on campus. The bus goes from the commuter lots to campus, to accommodate those who drive to work. Seeing that you won’t have a car on campus freshman year, consider it a mini Blue Loop that ends at Medlar Field.
Along with the on-campus service, CATA also offers service to off-campus destinations as well. For only $1.75 each way, you can get service to popular places such as Wal-Mart, Target and the Nittany Mall. These buses are also great for off-campus students who live further than downtown State College.
So there you have it, your complete guide to the CATA bus system. And with everything else in the world, there’s an app for that. There are two iPhone CATA bus apps: CATA and myStop Mobile. For Android users, there’s CATA+ and myStop Mobile.
- The campus shuttle “provides no-fare transportation to more than 20 stops around campus for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.” It does not run as frequent as the busses, but you can ride it from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and it runs every 15 minutes.
- The shuttle hits the usual spots like East Halls, Pollock, the library, and Business Building, but also dares to go where no buses have gone before: places like the dairy farms and blue band fields.
- There’s also an iPhone and Android app for the shuttle that offers real time tracking and announcements on the status of the shuttle service.
Good luck, and don’t look too much like a freshman riding the buses and shuttles.