Being in a same city for twenty four years can really give you freaks when you shift to a new city. But we are not talking about new city, its about whole new country on your own! I was totally scared to go out in the fear of getting lost in my starting days here. And slowly I discovered power of different apps which made confident that some way or the other I will get back home safe and sound. It is very handy to know different commute options when you are in USA. Some places like New York, Chicago etc have excellent public transport while in California commute through public transport can be a real trouble. (30 mins drive can end up being 2 hours and more journey as you will have to change couple of buses and bus routes would be longest possible ones!). Knowing different commute option can be really efficient. So, I am sharing all the ways of commute and finding ways that I have been using since in USA. These commute options have saved me through many situations – different interview calls, airport travels, commute to internships and job places and even grocery shoppings. So here goes my guide to efficient commute.
Being in a same city for more than twenty years of my life made me say no to Google maps. I knew my city so well I never needed maps and when I started using maps, it confused me with directions so much. But google maps is such a handy tool. You must must get used to using google maps. I can not stress enough on how important it is to be able to use and understand google maps. Wherever I go I keep checking my location on maps, just to make sure I am heading in right direction. Google maps can do much more. It is very important to get sense of directions to use maps efficiently. There are many guides on uses of google maps, so I won’t go much in to that. I just wanted to let you all know that this is a first and foremost important tool you will need when you are here in USA. Alternatively you can also use maps by Apple.
Download Google maps for iOS
Download Google maps for Android
This is an application in my phone which makes me confident that even if I am lost and have no money on me, I can get home safely. If you don’t know already, Uber is a ride sharing application where you can order your ride, and put a destination thats it. Someone will pick you up and drop you at your destination, and application will charge your card that you entered – making your commute easier. Most of the times I use uber pool (where you share rides with random unknown people who are going in the same direction as you are, and thus is cheaper than personal rides), except when going for interviews (saves time). When you refer anyone for Uber, you and whomever you referred get free credits. So, this is very efficient for students who are on the budget. Simple trick is to refer one by one in your friend circle and get each one free credits and then share many free rides amongst your group!
Download Uber for iOS
Download Uber for Android
Lyft is exactly similar to Uber. I was surprised when one of my acquaintance who’s working here had never heard of Lyft! I like to have option of Lyft as there can be significant price differences between Uber and Lyft for same path. So, each time I compare both apps, compare estimated fares from both, also the estimated time of arrive for the ride and then pick whichever one is cheaper and suitable.
Download Lyft for iOS
Download Lyft for Android
This is lesser known yet a very good application for car pooling. But this is mainly for working people. Very useful for commute during internships and even when you are working full time and don’t own a car and you are in California like states where public transport is troublesome. Basically, this is carpooling app for working people. So, drivers are actual employees working in some companies who drive cars. Such people can drop you if your home or company is on their way. Scoop is way cheaper as compared to Uber and Lyft. It is best for daily commute to work.
If you are public transport user, you must have this Transit. It is amazing! Currently this application is available for 125 cities. And if your city is in the list you are very lucky! This application gives real time schedule of all the public transports nearby you. By all public transport I mean, each and every bus, train, tram, light rail etc traveling near your location. I remember the time I used to observe my bus approaching near my bus stop on this application and leave my house when the bus is two stops away from mine. Very handy. It also syncs up with Uber, just in case if you wish to use that. I use it with Google maps, First see the google map and decide which bus number I need to take and come to Transit app to see the real time schedule and plan my commute accordingly. You can never go wrong. Of course, based in which city you are there will be dedicated application available for that city’s transport which will take you into more details. But Transit is one application for all.
Whenever I travel to and from airports, I like to use super shuttle. Mainly with international travels when you have much more luggage. When you schedule a super shuttle, they pick you up at exact time with enough buffer for you to reach your gate well before time. Same while picking you up from airports. they will wait for you at designated area at exact time. I always had good experience with Super Shuttle. If you are landing in USA for the first time and have no one to pick you up, you can book Super Shuttle from outside USA. Moreover, it is very cost effective. And if you are traveling in groups nothing can be more budget friendly than a Super Shuttle ride.
If you know driving and your indian grocery store is little far, then this is the best way to shop. Even it is good if you are going for outing for one – two hours or if you are learning to drive. Zipcar has tie ups with different universities and so you can get discounted memberships. All you need to have is a valid four wheeler license (Indian license works). A little process to get you approved and you get your zipcard. Once you have the card, you can reserve any car nearby your location. Zipcar charges you on hourly basis. Once you are done, you need to return car to zipper parking locations. And fuel is on them ! You get membership and referral credits as well. Normally this is useful when you need to use car for short time. Zipcar is very useful while learning to drive and for your behind the wheel test for license. Zipcar gives you sanction letter to use their car for behind the wheel test.
As I said Zipcar is convenient when you need a car for one to two hours but what if you have a long holiday coming up and you are planning a long drive outing with friends but have no car. Enterprise and hertz are one of the well known options for car rentals. They charge you on daily basis. you need to have a valid license. Unlike Zipcar, you have to pay for your fuel. These are very affordable, specially when you are traveling in groups and splitting the expenses.
There are many more useful applications and services available but I think these 8 are bare minimum applications for safe and effective commute.
How do you commute? Which application do you think is most useful when you are in a new city? Do you have any commute fiasco story to share?