The Amtrak train is one option for students who are trying to get home for the Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Photo by Erik Simkins/The AS Review

The Amtrak train is one option for students who are trying to get home for the Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Photo by Erik Simkins/The AS Review

By Alex Bacon/The AS Review

Thanksgiving and winter break are getting close and many students are trying to figure out the best way to get home.  For many in-state students, getting home is a challenge because, while home is close, it’s still so far away.

“When traveling during the busy holiday season, expect delays and plan ahead,” A.J. Garcia, AS Alternative Transportation coordinator, said.  “Always give yourself plenty of time to make any connections.  Weather and traffic can be unpredictable during busy winter months.”

There are many options for people traveling on the west side of the state.  Those options include Amtrak, public transit and Greyhound.

Zoey Brodsky, Buchanan Towers Transportation Desk coordinator, advised students to start with their budget.  The Amtrak train starts around $20 and the Greyhound bus starts around $15 but prices can be lower if students buy their tickets early. Also, for students who only need to go as far as Seattle or Tacoma, public bus routes are a cheap option.
“On weekdays, you can get to Everett for $2, Seattle or Bellevue for $4.50 and to Tacoma for $5 using public transit,” Garcia said. “Once in Everett or Seattle, you can transfer to other public transit routes to reach your final destination.”

“Amtrak and Greyhound are also good options for going down south, especially if you need to go further than Seattle as well as for going north to Vancouver, BC,” Garcia said.  For students trying to go south along the I-5 corridor, Brodsky also suggested looking at the Community Transit Web site (www.commtrans.org).

“Getting to the eastern side of the state is a little harder,” Brodsky said.  There are fewer options, as fewer transit methods offer routes over the mountains.  Greyhound and Amtrak have routes, but students would have to get to Everett or Seattle first.

“For getting back to Spokane, Wenatchee and Ephrata, taking Amtrak can be an easy and relatively inexpensive option,” Garcia said.  “[But] going back to the west side on Amtrak can be tricky. The westbound train comes in all the way from Chicago, so it can be substantially late by the time it gets to Washington.”

For other destinations in eastern Washington, Garcia said Greyhound is usually an inexpensive option.  Another option is to fly from either Bellingham International Airport or SeaTac International Airport.  To get to SeaTac from Bellingham, students can take the airporter shuttle from the GuestHouse Inn on Lakeway Drive.

Brodsky suggested looking at the rideshare forum on Western’s Viking Village forum first for students traveling east.

“Rideshare forums are really handy for students willing to carpool,” Garcia said.

Garcia had a few tips for students trying to plan their travels around the state.  First, make reservations early. Often, the earlier you can make reservations, the lower the price. Also, you don’t run the risk of trying to book a seat on a sold-out bus or train.

“You don’t want to try to book a train or bus during finals week and find out that it’s full,” he said.

Another thing to remember is that using the public transit option only works on weekdays.

Finally, he said to ask the bus driver if you’re concerned about making a connection or aren’t sure what bus to take.

If the information a student is looking for isn’t online or they can’t find the information they need, they can always e-mail AS.Transportation@wwu.edu or call (360)-650-7960 and for help planning a trip.

Students can also contact BT.Travel@wwu.edu or visit the Buchanan Towers Transportation Info Desk in the 3rd floor lounge for help with trip planning and travel options.