When you visit the lovely campus of Salus University, you will see it is nestled in beautiful Elkins Park, a northern suburb of Philadelphia. The Eye Institute, which is the University’s optometry teaching facility, is located about three miles south in the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. During the optometry interview, shuttle transportation is provided to interviewees to give them the opportunity to tour the facility. But once enrolled, it is the student’s responsibility to provide his or her own transportation to the clinical facility at the assigned times.
At first this may sound daunting, especially for those who travel long distances to attend Salus. Not to mention, there are also the regular tasks that need to be accomplished, such as grocery shopping and setting up a home before classes and clinical begins. Additionally, one may want to explore the area to see what it has to offer. The first semester of the first year of the traditional optometry program is very manageable without a vehicle.
There is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) system that includes not only buses but also regional trains and subways. One way on the bus is $2.25. To pay for the ride back, one can pay an extra dollar at the time of the first fare for a transfer pass, which can be used anytime the same day. One way on the bus is $7 between Elkins Park and downtown Philadelphia. For a roundtrip, the fee is $10. There is also a great money-saver known as an Independence Pass. For $12 one can ride SEPTA that day for no additional charge. The only stipulation is that it must be purchased after 9:00 a.m. This is a great option for transportation to and from the airport, downtown Philadelphia, or The Eye Institute.
There are also Uber and Lyft driving services. Both can be accessed through apps downloaded onto any mobile device. Both require the user to share his or her location and to enter a credit or debit card for billing purposes. This is great for door-to-door service for out of town friends visiting, grocery shopping, or safe traveling after dusk. Fees may vary based on distance and availability.
The most helpful and underrated form of transportation is with a classmate. Reaching out to the rest of the class is necessary for this method. This can be done while meeting classmates during Orientation Week or shortly after classes start. The class Facebook group will also be a good place to find a classmate with a similar schedule. One does not have to limit him or herself to one person to ride with every day. Due to the fluctuation of the University or program schedule, more than one friend with a car will be an added benefit. One classmate can be a ride to class while another can be a ride to clinic. Although riding with someone else does not directly cost the passenger, one can still offer to pay for gas as repayment.
Additionally, some apartment complexes offer shuttle services around the neighborhood. Most have stops at the local grocery store, Walmart and Target. Be sure to check wherever you plan to rent. The schedule is usually posted. Also, nothing is wrong with taking a walk once in a while to learn the Elkins Park/Jenkintown area. During the warmer months, it is nice to walk around to become more familiar with the area that will be called home for the next few years. One can get a more intimate knowledge of the hidden treasures that can be found in the neighborhood. The best part - it’s absolutely free!
Finally, Google Maps is an especially helpful tool to help navigate all methods of transportation, especially to new locations. This can help with directions for drivers, show a given route via public transportation, estimate the cost of a driving service, and help the student determine if the distance is walkable in decent circumstances or nice weather. This takes a lot of pressure off of the first year so the main focus can be grades and adjusting to the new climate or area The Christmas break, spring semester, or summer break can also be used to find a vehicle suitable for the rest of your career at Salus. So take a deep breath and relax. You got this!