Schedules and cards

Bus schedules can be easily accessed with Google Maps -- it's already standard on most smartphones. Schedules can also be bookmarked from m.rtd-denver.com, as well as nextbus.com for the Hop route.

Learn more about RTD passes at the BuffOne Card site: https://services.jsatech.com/index.php?cid=59&.

Ali Naaseh is a self-proclaimed "bus freak." The senior international affairs major took the bus to Denver for work every day this summer.

"During the school year, I probably hop on a bus at least once a day," he said. "Even though I live close to campus, the buses make it extremely easy to get where I'm going a little faster. Every extra minute helps."

Automatically included in CU students' annual fees is a bus pass with the Denver metro area's Regional Transportation District, or RTD. The pass is valid on all public transportation, including light rail trains and buses out to Denver International Airport.

In a city as green as Boulder, taking the bus has become an important part of students' environmental efforts, especially for students without cars, like Naaseh. "I've always thought more people should use public transport," he said.

"It's easier on the environment, extremely efficient and cheap."

Boulder's transportation system also gives it a competitive advantage over other Colorado college towns. Naaseh grew up in Fort Collins, home of Colorado State University. "The public transportation wasn't the best," he said. "It was so bad that I never even bothered to ride the buses. You'd have to wait half an hour and walk a mile just to find a bus stop."

Jenny Ondower, left, talks with Robbie Begalle during a late night ride on the Gold Line Hop bus.
Jenny Ondower, left, talks with Robbie Begalle during a late night ride on the Gold Line Hop bus. ( Mara Auster )

The Skip route runs up and down Broadway, giving students direct access to Table Mesa, campus and the Hill, downtown and North Boulder. For students on east campus, the Bound runs from Baseline to Iris along 30th Street, reaching WillVill, King Soopers, Twentyninth Street Mall and the Diagonal Plaza shopping center.

Many CU students also use the Hop route, which hits all the major spots in central Boulder. The Hop runs often during the school year and continues until midnight on the weekends. Because it runs directly through campus, many freshmen use the Hop as their go-to bus route, especially later at night.

In addition to helping WillVill and Bear Creek residents get to and from campus, the Buff Bus can be useful for students looking for a quick way to get to Baseline and 30th. The bus -- which anyone can take for free -- is a good option for people wanting to go to the Dark Horse or Amante on Baseline.

An oft-overlooked bus resource is Boulder's Late Night Transit, which runs as part of a partnership between Boulder and CU. They run past last call on weekends and will often bring a rider right to his or her door. This free service is a great alternative to taking a taxi and ensures riders get home safely.

Kevin Rice, a recent psychology-neuroscience graduate, commuted to Boulder throughout his college career. He spent plenty of time on regional buses heading to Longmont and Denver. Rice said the Denver route, the BV, was always interesting. "You get a Denver crowd, so lots of professors ride it during commuting hours. I got to meet professors from my 300-person lectures, which was way more personal."

The Longmont buses -- the Bolt and J -- are a different story, however: "When people say 'Boulder,' you have these stereotypes of the type of people who are here," he said. "Those people actually come in to Boulder from Longmont."

Both Naaseh and Rice rely on their smartphones to help them catch the right buses.

"Usually, I'll use Google Maps to find a route to wherever I'm going," Naaseh said. "That app is a lifesaver."

Rice has RTD's mobile site bookmarked on his phone, and he memorized stop numbers for the ones he uses the most often.

"It pulls it up right away, and then I know I don't need to leave the house for another 10 minutes." Rice pointed out that for students who don't have a smartphone or who prefer the paper version, bus schedules can be found all throughout campus.

Taking the bus is an efficient way for CU students to get around town, as well as the Denver metro area.

"Take advantage of it," said Rice. "Once you get over the idea of 'public transportation is weird,' you'll save money on things like gas or taxis, leaving you with more money for drinks."

Jessica Ryan is a community manager and recent CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.