Life With a Car
I am so thankful for my car. Seriously. It’s true that you can get around to many places with the MetroLink and bus system, but nothing beats the convenience of having your own car. I don’t have to worry about running out of food, because I can drive over to Schnucks whenever I need to. I can freely commit to serving in church and I can visit other people’s houses without worrying about transportation. I can give people rides to get groceries and I can go out for dinner with my friends any time. Even as a first year, I have had to drive pretty far to get to my primary care preceptor’s office, and I will probably need to drive to some rotations in the future. As time goes on, I foresee needing the car more and more. Gas prices here tend to be on the low side, and as long as you keep your car registered in your home state, you don’t have to pay the Missouri vehicle tax. So, if you have a car, good for you! If you don’t, think about investing in one.
— Stephanie T., M1
Life Without a Car
Having a car is definitely not essential during your first year at WUSM. Pretty much everything in the Central West End is within walking distance of the medical school, and the MetroLink can take you almost anywhere else you need to go (e.g. downtown, the mall, grocery shopping, or the airport). If you do end up needing a more flexible form of transport, there’s a great car-sharing program on campus with very low rates. And if all else fails (and you really don’t want to take a cab), you can always beg your friends with a car, which is a decent proportion of the class. There’s almost always a couple of people who are heading where you’re going and they’re almost always willing to take a passenger along. So if you don’t have a car or a license, or if you just want to ditch the hassles of parking and maintenance, life without a car is just fine.
— Jessica H., M1
WeCar, now known as Enterprise CarShare, 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 nine vehicles scattered across the Wash U campuses that can be hired for $5 per hour, $60 per day, or $20 overnight (6 p.m. – 8 a.m.). Reservations should generally be made a few days in advance, especially for the single car located on the medical school campus, but last minute vehicular needs can often be serviced by others in the fleet, all located a short MetroLink ride away. While it definitely requires some forethought and planning, I’ve found that the car-share program can supplement public transit (and the kindness of your friends/classmates) adequately, as to make living without a car viable in St. Louis.
— Umber D., M1
MetroLink and MetroBus
Wherever you are, someone is always going to be complaining about public transit. This, perhaps above all else, unifies us as a species. St. Louis is no exception. While it is true that the current system is far from perfect, it’s more than adequate and, more importantly, it’s totally free. All Wash U students receive an unlimited pass that grants full access to both the light rail system (“MetroLink”) and the bus system (“MetroBus”). Most of the city 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. Metro Transit strives to be technologically progressive and has the entire system fully integrated with Google Maps. You can also expect to enjoy the full deployment of real-time tracking and the usage of smart card technology in the near future.
— Umber D., M1
Biking in St. Louis
I love my bike! I’m from California, so Missouri is pretty flat in comparison, which makes it a great place for bicycles. Drivers here are generally pretty aware and respectful of bikes. I live in Forest Park Southeast, which is about a 10-minute walk south of campus; on my bike, it’s only a five-minute trip. I love that my bike gets me places so much faster than walking and sometimes even faster than driving just because of the way the streets are set up around the medical campus. I don’t have to deal with parking and, since both St. Louis and Wash U are trying to encourage more people to use their bikes, there are plenty of bike racks. The medical campus even has a maintenance station with pumps. I bike to meet friends in the CWE, I bike to go grocery shopping, I bike down to Tower Grove. You can even take your bike on the Metro. I don’t have a car, so I rely heavily on my bike, and so far it has worked out well. Yay for bikes!
— Lindsay B., M1