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bus at the bus stop
July 25, 2018
4 mins read

Commuting 101

First of all, welcome to the commuting community. You’re about to join the 75% of students who make the daily trek up to campus.

The commuting life comes with its perks and challenges, and as a seasoned commuter, I’m hoping to share my tips on how you can navigate this journey without too many bumps along the way (pun intended). Click below or scroll through to see what's to come. 

What every commuter should know

Take it or leave it

What features are available to me?

What every commuter should know

Everyone’s commute will be slightly different, but no matter if it’s minutes or hours there are things that every commuter should consider:

Add 10 minutes of additional time to your commute for when you arrive on campus. I’m not joking when I say it can take up to 20 minutes to go from one side of campus to another.

Account for rush hour traffic in your commuting schedule. Rush hour in Vancouver is approximately 8:00 to 9:30 am and 3:00 to 5:30 pm. This means traffic is all over the city and getting to/from UBC can take way longer than Google Maps predicts. During this time it’s typical for many packed buses to pass you by, so give yourself at least 20 minutes buffer time to get to that 9:00 am lecture.

Pick up your Compass Card from the UBC Bookstore or wherever Translink products are sold and load your U-pass onto it. Your Compass Card is your ticket onto all public transit in Vancouver and needs to be reloaded every month (you’ll be sent an email reminder).

If you decide to regularly buy meals on campus, consider signing up for the UBCcard Plan or the Savings Plus Meal Plan. These plans are available for commuter students. Your wallet will thank you, as you’ll be saving money on food you’d be purchasing anyways.

Maximize your time spent on campus. Find ways to get involved in campus life either during breaks in the day, or schedule time to stay late one evening a week. There’s also time in the beginning of the semester for you to add/drop classes in your schedule if it doesn’t fit well with your commute.

Take it or leave it 

Without the option to go back home for an item you forgot, it’s good to pack your bag the night before with everything for the next day. No one wants to search for an iClicker at 6:30 am.

Take it
  • Compass Card - you won’t be allowed on transit without it.
  • UBCcard - if a ticket check takes place on transit you will need your student card to accompany your Compass Card.
  • Downloaded Netflix/podcasts/audiobooks - commuting can be boring, so pass the time with some entertainment.
  • Small umbrella - with a campus right by the ocean, the weather can change in an instant and sitting in wet jeans is not fun.
  • Water bottle - you’ll want to stay hydrated during the way and having an easy way to drink water is vital.
  • Nourishing snacks - you don’t want to run out of food by 11:00 am.
Leave it
  • All your textbooks - only bring the ones absolutely needed for lectures that day.
  • Chargers - they take up unnecessary space. Bring your laptop and phone fully charged, but If you need one during the day, rent it for free from the Chapman Learning Commons in Irving.
  • Food that needs refrigeration - you’ll be hard pressed to find a public fridge on campus.

What campus features are available to me?

Whether you want to store your fitness gear, heat food, take a shower or relax, there are spaces on campus with a variety of features for the commuter student:


Store additional items you don’t want to lug around all day by renting lockers at UBC Recreation’s various locations, as well as some of the Undergraduate societies and departments. For example:


The Nest has a couple of microwaves that students can use to heat their food. Be forewarned: from noon to 1:00 pm they have a continuous lineup, so plan your visit accordingly! There’s also this lunch hub website designed by students that showcases where you can eat and where microwaves are located around campus.

UBC Life Building and AMS Nest

With cozy seating, various food options, and many campus services, these two adjacent spaces have been specifically designed for convenient student use. And they’re located just a couple of minutes away from most bus stops.

Residence cafeterias

It’s a common misconception that they’re only for residence students. Join a new friend for lunch and enjoy the cuisine options.  

UBC Aquatic Centre and fitness centres

If you want to schedule workouts into your days on campus or fill your hour break with a refreshing swim then there are amazing facilities at your fingertips. It’s free for UBC students to swim at the pool with your student card, and you can purchase a term pass for access to the fitness centres. (Plus they’re equipped with showers.)


This is the home away from home for first-year students. Each space has a kitchen, comfy couches, and friendly advisors who are happy to chat and help you settle into life at UBC. There are also lots of programs and activities designed to connect commuter students with on-campus services, faculty members, and peer support. Express your interest in joining Collegia as soon as possible.

Commuter Student Hostel

Designed for commuter students facing late nights and early mornings, this UBC space offers affordable overnight accommodations between September and April. The hostel is open from Sunday to Thursday and all week during exam periods.

No matter what mode of transport you’ll use to travel to campus, know that there are spaces and resources available for you.