Life With a Car
St. Louis is a city of many perks, but much of what it offers is not within walking distance. Whether it is the City Museum or the fabulous outlet malls, St. Louis City and County are full of surprises for car owners. Having a car or some means of transportation outside the Central West End (CWE) is one of the best choices you can make if you want to explore the city to the fullest. Not a weekend goes by when I am not out on the town. From the West County Mall to volunteering in the city, Washington Avenue (a hotspot for food and fun) to Ballpark Village, or simply grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and later hitting up John Donut, having a car cannot steer you wrong. Concerts every weekend, art fairs, and checking out nearby cities are so much more enjoyable when you have the means to get there and back. So if you still have qualms, say yes to the car!
— Rubabin T., M1
Life Without a Car
I would guesstimate that the class is split 50-50 between having and not having a car. I’m a huge fan of walking and using public transportation to get around, and contrary to my prior concerns, that has worked out just fine for me here. I, like the majority of students, live within walking distance of campus, so classes, labs, student group meetings, the gym, etc. are all easy to get to. Our access to transportation is taken into consideration in assigning our clinical responsibilities, too. Forest Park, the Grove and anywhere within the CWE are all within walking distance, and people usually carpool or share cabs when venturing elsewhere, so hanging out has not at all been a problem without a car either. Since I brought up cabs, you probably won’t find them swarming the streets like in NYC or Philly, but you can call for one any time. On the off chance that the train, buses, walking, cabs and WeCar (see next story) won’t get you where you need to go, odds are that your classmates will be as wonderful as mine and will be happy to give you a ride.
— Kalyan T., M1
Enterprise CarShare, formerly known as WeCar, is a membership-based car-sharing program similar to services such as Zipcar, Mint and I-GO. All students are eligible to join the program without having to pay any sort of initiation fee or annual dues. Members have access to a fleet of 23 vehicles scattered across the WashU campuses, which can be hired for an inclusive rate of $5 per hour, $60 per day, or $20 overnight (6 p.m. – 8 a.m.). Online reservations should generally be made a few days in advance — especially for the two cars located on the medical school campus — but last-minute vehicular needs can often be serviced by others in the fleet, usually located just a short MetroLink ride away; there is even an app available to facilitate the process. Some forethought and planning is required, but I’ve found that the car-share program can supplement public transit (and the kindness of your friends/classmates) enough to make living without a car viable in St. Louis.
— Umber D., M2
MetroLink and MetroBus
No matter where you are, someone is always going to be complaining about public transit. St. Louis is no exception, and while it is true that the current system is far from perfect, it’s more than adequate and, more importantly, completely free. All WashU students receive a pass that grants unlimited access to both the light rail system (MetroLink) and the bus system (MetroBus). Most of the city’s more popular attractions can be found within a few minutes’ walk from the MetroLink stations, and almost everything is easily accessible, albeit somewhat circuitously, by interlinking MetroBus routes. Thankfully, Metro Transit also strives to be technologically progressive. The entire transit system is fully integrated with Google Maps and all buses are tracked in real time on the Metro website. You can expect to enjoy the usage of smart card technology in the near future as well.
— Umber D., M2
Biking in St. Louis
Having a bike can save you time and money as you commute to campus or laugh at your friends as they look for free parking. Many of the drivers here are not used to having bicyclists on the road, so be cautious when riding on the roads. Your best bet is to take bike paths when possible. There are also plenty of paths with great scenery when you need a break from studying or want to get some exercise. The streets stay busy fora while after dark, so get some flashing lights, reflective jackets and/or reflective tape. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bike thefts around campus. There is a secure, card accessed lot by Olin where you can park your bike when you are in the area. If you are off campus, it is best to lock up with a U-lock. If you need accessories, bike maintenance, or are buying a new bike, Big Shark Bicycle Company on Delmar has just about everything at a discounted price when you mention that you’re a student. Also, wear a helmet.
— Angus T., M1