Although thousands of college students attend schools in Broome County, traveling to and from the area can be difficult for those without vehicles.
For most, driving or taking the bus are the only options for commuting home or heading to school. Students who cannot drive or do not have a car usually purchase bus tickets from Escape, a student-run bus company that departs from campus, or a variety of bus lines that service the Greater Binghamton Transportation Center on Chenango Street in Downtown Binghamton, including Greyhound and Coach USA. One-way buses to New York City, a common destination, are usually around $35 during holidays.
Although these bus companies connect the Binghamton area to the rest of the state, only certain locations can be reached without transfers. For students looking to return to their homes in areas outside the New York metro area, trips from school can involve multiple bus transfers at different locations around New York state.
According to Ryan McNamara, an Escape employee, Escape buses go directly to their destinations without any layovers, and students help decide where the buses will travel to.
“Our e-board consists of students that decide on important matters such as what buses to run for the breaks and also when to run these buses,” McNamara wrote in an email. “During this last break we sold out all seven of our buses and had just shy of 400 students take the buses home. Currently we have buses going to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten [Island], Nanuet, White Plains, Jericho, Ronkonkoma, Huntington, Fresh Meadows and Ridgewood, New Jersey.”
Nevertheless, many students live in areas outside those that Escape services and approximately 25 percent of students at BU live out of state. Although some areas, like Scranton, Pennsylvania, are only a bus trip away from Binghamton, students who live far from Broome County must find alternative routes home, often by flying. However, the closest airport to BU, Greater Binghamton Airport, only services Delta Air Lines planes to and from Detroit, Michigan, and students seeking to go elsewhere must book flights with layovers or fly out of airports farther from Broome County.
Weather can also complicate travel plans for students using buses or flying. Over the recent winter break, Escape rescheduled its return trips to Binghamton from Wednesday to Sunday as a result of the nor’easter storm on March 7. Other bus companies canceled their trips after Broome County, along with other areas of New York state, was placed under a winter weather warning for over 36 hours.
Emily Hershorin, a senior majoring in psychology, lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and said the only way for her to travel home by bus includes a transfer in Scranton. Hershorin bought a car when she was a junior and said she now drives approximately three hours to get home over breaks.
“My other out of state friends have cars so they don’t struggle to find ways home, but I know before we all had cars it was really frustrating for our parents to have to drive to [Binghamton] and back one day and then again once the break was over,” Hershorin wrote in an email.
Although owning a car helped Hershorin, freshmen are not allowed to have cars on campus, and vehicle costs, including insurance, gas, tolls and parking fees, can restrict driving as an option for students. These restrictions led to the creation of a Facebook page called “Binghamton University (BU) Rideshare Group!,” where students can post if they are driving or looking for a ride and carpool and split the costs with other students.
Audrey Yan, a junior majoring in psychology, said she usually does not have trouble finding a ride by using the Facebook group.
“I went home this break and I did not have a hard time finding a ride home,” Yan said. “I did end up taking a bus back to [Binghamton because] I wasn’t able to find anyone going back the same day I was.”