Uni is baaaaaaaaaaaack, and with its return comes a fresh new round of everyone’s favourite lark, Car Park Wars.
For those who are new to our leafy campus, parking a car at Callaghan is akin to being a contestant on a post-apocalyptic gameshow, a hybrid of Survivor and Mad Max.
For those of us who are seasoned veterans, we know all too well the white-knuckle clutching of the steering wheel, the hours spent in a hot, metallic traffic mosh-pit, waiting forever to even get inside the walls – only to be left to circle for an eternity looking for a slot to guide our clapped-out machine into.
Why do you put yourself through it?
Ask yourself a very serious question:
Do you NEED to drive to uni?
Do you REALLY need to?
Because there are those that do. Students who live far away; students with disabilities; those poor souls struggling with the new bus numbering system (why two digits instead of three?).
If you don’t absolutely need to drive, by getting to uni some other way you’re freeing up space and frustration for those who do. By finding an alternative to driving, you can bask in your own shiny altruism knowing that you’ve helped another student out.
If selfless and unrewarded gestures aren’t really putting fuel in your tank, how about weighing up the costs.
Fuel, parking tickets, car maintenance, anti-anxiety medication and hair transplants all cost a lot of money, and you won’t need any of them if you don’t have to fight tooth, nail and hubcap for a space every day.
If you factor in the costs to your mental health then you can forget altruism and wallow in your own self-interest. Imagine what you could do with a pocket full of cash and a brain full of happy thoughts!
But how else do you get to campus?
Firstly, let’s talk about Active Travel.
That’s the thing where you do some exercise AND get where you need to go.
Time is precious when you’re a student, so why not kill two birds with one cliche and exercise your way to class.
Active Travel gives you a bunch of other bonuses as well.
Exercise is amazing for your mental health as well as your physical well-being and lord knows we all need a few units of happy thoughts in reserve when those assignments start piling up.
You get to reduce your carbon footprint.
Vitamin D is good stuff.
You also give yourself a legitimate reason to wear your active wear to uni.
For those of you who live close to uni, and are physically able, why not walk?
I live a fifteen-minute walk from home to the Auchmuty Library. I walk to and from uni every day and am amazed that people in my neighbourhood drive. I have seen people pull out of their driveways and straight into the queue to the car-park. It takes me 15 minutes and them over half-an-hour.
If you live a 30-minute walk from campus, you’ll also save TIME on top of money and stress.
Exercise is good for you too. There’s studies and everything. So, put on some comfy shoes, blast some music and get hoofing.
UON Callaghan has two (2) Bike Hubs with showers and lockers and an undercover place to lock up your bike. There are also loads of bike racks and those ‘secret’ places where you can freshen up before class, Plus there are a series of dedicated cycling routes from all the major suburbs all you need to do is go HERE and click on your suburb for a handy map and an estimated time frame for your ride.
You can also hire a bike, get help with bike maintenance, get the thing fixed or just hang out with bike riding types and talk saddles and stirrups and spandex at the Bike Love Corral.
Ok, so walking the whole way to campus or cycling is out of the question.
There are days when ‘physical exertion’ drops below ‘getting torn apart by a pack of hungry dogs’ on my things I like to do list. Mostly when I’m overworked or it’s raining.
Perhaps then you should consider utilising Newcastle’s public transport network.
Getting the train to Warabrook station enables you to combine a bit of Murder on the Orient Express with some light Active Travel. The free security shuttle bus will get you over the other side of campus for the trains stop (or anywhere else on campus) if you are just not feeling energetic.
As a regular bus ninja I highly recommend downloading these apps, which all have different pros and cons
Newcastle Buses now operate by having several major ‘spine’ routes with minor routes feeding in to them so changing buses, or modes of transport is the norm.
I also recommend getting the bus earlier than you think you need to, because while you may not need to find a park, getting through the collected vehicular body of the poor souls who haven’t even made it inside the campus yet can often hold you up and make you late.
One thing to make sure of, if you’re a public transport user, is to apply for a student Opal card so you can get those sweet, half-price fares.
Callaghan and NewSpace are also connected by a free UON express shuttle bus.
Park at Callaghan and Ride the shuttle to the city to avoid the struggle of finding a park in the Newcastle CBD – cheaper as well. This is great if you have a class in town, or you live within walking or riding distance to Callaghan and don’t fancy engaging your Active Travel Powers all the way into town. (If you live in the city and have class at Callaghan why not make your way to the bus stop opposite university house and catch the free park and ride shuttle back to Callaghan. You could even ride your bike to NeW Space and leave it in the bike hub there)
NB – it only picks up at 2 designated stops on Callaghan – Design and Student accommodation and will not pick up anywhere else.
Have you heard about Rideshare?
If you have to drive, or prefer to travel by car, download the exclusive UON Liftango app. Using the app, you can designate yourself as a passenger or driver and the app finds you a match.
By Ridesharing you get access to exclusive rideshare allocated parking as well as doing someone else a favour, cutting down on car emissions and freeing up parking. You also get a little bit more control over who you sit next to than you do on public transport.
By using the app you can also earn rewards like fuel vouchers – every own like a bit of coin in their pocket.
Whatever mode you choose, it pays to think twice before reaching for your car keys. Every student has horror stories connected to driving to uni and finding a park. Ask someone on campus this week and watch their eyes glaze.
Don’t do it to yourself. Find a better, friendlier, less impactful and calmer way.
Save the stress for the coffee cart queue.