As a commuter-student, travelling takes up a huge amount of my time. I only live in Rotherham, a smallish town right next to Sheffield, but on an average day, it takes me about an hour and a half each way (if I was more meticulous with looking up bus, train and tram times I’m sure it would take less than an hour). These past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with various different modes of transport to get to and from university both to regain the amount of time I spend travelling and to alleviate the burden of having to leave university early to get the last train, or bus. Here’s how I’ve been getting on.
I officially hate driving to Sheffield. Too many roundabouts. No one indicates (as a result I ensure I do even more excessively just to compensate). So much traffic at 7:30am! Grr. Parking is annoying, too. It’s not so bad trying to find a vacant space, just that it’s rather expensive and, as you probably already know, the average student budget is not all that flexible.
I had a crisis last week when I thought I’d leave my lovely little Fiesta (Ruth) in the free Meadowhall shopping centre car park whilst I hopped on the tram to university. It was about 7:45am and I was feeling extremely smug with myself for arriving 10 minutes earlier than I normally would if I’d opted to go via bus. I got as far as the bridge connecting the mall with the interchange, however, when I heard a group of women behind me talking. I’m not sure if they actually said this or if my mind, in panic-mode, conjured up these radically hyperbolised notions, but I thought I heard one of them say the maximum stay is 3 hours and that’s only for customers. (Does anyone know if this is true? Out of curiosity.) Anyway, I had planned to spend the majority of my day at university, where my last seminar finished at 3pm, get the tram back to Meadowhall and make a start on my Christmas shopping before I went home. Well, this plan did not transpire accordingly, and I still have yet to make a start on my Christmas shopping. I instead ended up frantically retrieving Ruth, driving home and then having to get a bus into town, another one into Meadowhall and finally a tram to university. Phew! So yes. Driving to university is not going all that well at the moment.
Trams, then, are what I’ve been using to get to and from university and it’s generally been ok! But, I realise that for the first few weeks I was relying on trams I wasn’t really spending any time in Sheffield city centre, which was a shame. I was too focused on catching up with all my work. I’d get the tram straight to university early in the morning and at the end of the day I’d get one straight back. That’s not what university life is about! Recently I’ve tried not to use trams that often; one of my favourite places in the world is Sheffield train station. I love the walk leading up from the station, past Sheffield Hallam University and towards the Millennium Gallery and Winter Garden. A little bit further and you reach Tudor Square, where the Crucible and Lyceum Theatre are. I think this route actually has a name, something like the ‘Golden Walk’. Is this another fictitious notion I’ve created? I’ll never know!
Travelling to university does have its perks. It has allowed me to spend more time with my friends from home. We hardly get to see each other nowadays because we are always juggling various commitments, such as work, our studies, society involvement. My friend Heather and I always get the bus to Meadowhall in the morning (except for that one time I decided to alter this routine and drive. Serves me right.) She waits for her train to Huddersfield and I get my tram to Sheffield. It’s only 45 minutes per day, but I don’t mind.
Here are a few pictures of my daily travels with Heather. Enjoy! Also, here are a few links to travel pages that may come in useful if you are finding getting around rather expensive. In my efforts to make travel more cost-effective, I’ve come across a Travel Master pass that allows me to travel by bus, train and tram around South Yorkshire for less than £60 a month. There’s different passes available, such as travel just in Sheffield by bus, this one is even cheaper. Visit the South Yorkshire Travel Master website if you’d like some more information.
I will keep you all posted on the parking situation.