Cars, buses and tourists - oh my!

Previously I wrote a post about housing, which is a very important thing to think about when entering the Disney College Program for many reasons.  One such reason is transportation - whether you drive, use the provided buses or carpool with someone, deciding how you're going to get around can be vitally important to how your program experience goes.  Don't let the stories people tell you about any one method scare you, though.  In the end, making the decision that's best for you is what matters.  With that being said, I'll start off the great "car vs. bus" debate by outlining pros and cons of each!

The bus system

If you are a DCP alum and saw the photo above, you probably had a very strong reaction to it.  Yes, folks, that is a photo of the kind of buses that are offered by Disney and housing to transport you between complexes, parks, Disney hotels and even places like the mall and Walmart/Publix.  They're essentially re-purposed city buses, so anyone who's ridden one before pretty much knows what to expect from these.

The good:  First of all, the buses are free.  Well, either that or you pay for them with your rent.  Either way, you have guaranteed free transportation to pretty much anywhere on Disney property and a few locations off-property whenever you want it (provided the bus route there is running).  Some bus routes have frequent pickup times, so you can have a bit more flexibility on when you catch the bus to work.  You also don't have to struggle to find parking when you get to work (some cast member parking lots are very small or have to share space with guest parking).

The bad:  Everyone's who ever followed a DCP blog knows this one fact - the bus system can be horrendous.  Drivers aren't the best disciplined and some will give themselves unauthorized breaks while in the middle of a route, try to drive the bus places it can't go, drive recklessly (even when driving a bus packed full of CPs) and get themselves in trouble with Disney's own bus drivers and security guards.  Buses will sometimes show up extremely early, extremely late or not at all - and dispatch rarely if ever cares if you call them to report the bus off its route.  Now, this isn't an everyday occurrence especially on routes that pick up often (and note that the coach buses, the big fancy ones, are perfectly fine because they're driven by better employees), but it's common enough that you should be wary if you ever use them as your way to work.

Your car

The good: The flexibility, man!  Rather than have to stick to someone else's schedule for getting to and from work, you can pick and choose when you go.  You also get more flexibility in where you want to go - beach trips whenever you want, being able to go to Target or any other store besides Walmart, taking yourself to the doctor if you feel sick... it's fantastic.  You also seem to make faster friends with everyone else since everyone loves a CP who has a car and can drive them home :P

The bad: Gas can be expensive in central Florida.  Repeat with me.  Gas. Can. Be. Expensive.  Remember that you're traveling to a place with a lot of drivers with a lot of cars that need a lot of gas, so unless you're from a big city or one that has a bunch of tourists you'll pay more for it than at home.  And I'll point out the obvious too - you're also responsible for paying to get it down there and for maintenance if it breaks down or needs routine stuff.  However, the biggest problem is with the other drivers... because they're absolutely awful.  Out of all of my friends and fellow CPs who had cars, only about four of them got through the program without getting into an accident or completely totalling their car.  If you're a passive or nervous driver bringing your own car is not a good idea.  At all.  Again, the drivers in your area are likely not as bad as they are here.

So what did I do?

I'm from a city thousands of miles away from Orlando and on my last program couldn't get anyone to drive with me down.  I wasn't about to drive for three days halfway across the country by myself and wasn't looking forward to having to pay for gas and such when I already dropped a load of cash each week on rent.  Though I ran into many frustrations with the bus system that led to me being late to work a few times, I never regretted my decision.  In fact, I'm planning on doing the same this time around.  Once again, the decision on how you'll handle transportation is yours alone, but I found that the buses worked for me better overall.

General tips

No matter if you choose you drive or ride the buses, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Always start out for work early.  Bus people, you'll want to get on the bus before the one the schedule says will get you to work on time.  Car people, you'll want to give yourself about 20 minutes at least (30 minutes if you want to be safe) to drive to work.  Give yourself more time during holiday seasons.  This is all to account for traffic, construction, accidents, breakdowns, etc.
  2. Be responsible on the road.  Don't be noisy on the buses or try to distract your driver from his or her job.  If driving, don't drive like an idiot, speed or do things that you know are unsafe.  I've seen too many accidents (and even a death) in the WDW area and I don't want to see anyone on this program getting themselves into the hospital.
  3. If your bus or car breaks down, have the number of Deployment (where you call to call in sick) AND your manager on your phone.  Call right away and let them know you'll be late or absent from work depending on the situation.  You might still get points on your record but calling ahead of time makes you look more responsible.
  4. Be careful about who you give rides to or accept rides from.  If it's another cast member or CP you'll at least know their name and where they work, but if they're a stranger you don't know for sure how they drive.  And always make sure to offer gas money even if you're going to the same place!
  5. If you bring your car, on check in day you'll have to register your car in order to park it in the complexes.  If you decide later you want to bring your car with you, check with security or the front desk on how to register it.
So there you have it!  If you have any further questions about the buses or driving your car let me know!  I may do a follow-up post in the future on the bus system in depth in the near future, but until then... have a great day!

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