Moving to Cardiff for university? Not sure how you’ll get around? Here’s a guide to Cardiff’s public transport from a student who’s lived it.
Moving somewhere unfamiliar can be really exciting but also nerve-wracking at the same time, particularly if you don’t know your way around. That’s how I felt when I moved to Cardiff. The transition from a small town to a capital city was exhilarating, yet I had no clue where anything was, or how to get to it.
Since then, I’ve become a public transport professional and have picked up some tips for all students looking to move to the Welsh capital.
Check With Your University
My university, USW, has a really helpful page on Travelling to Campus. It lists the train stations close to their different campuses and links to the local bus operators and their timetables. Have a look at your university’s advice zone as they should offer something similar. That way, you can get to grips with the public transport you need before your first day.
Something that’s on every student’s mind. It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about money when going to university and travel costs can add up. Luckily, there are a few different options in Cardiff to save your pennies.
I live in the city centre yet my campus is in Trefforest, 12 miles away, so I catch the train in for my lessons. This could get quite pricey, but I manage to save a third of the price on each of my journeys because of my railcard. I have the Valleys Student Railcard.
All I had to do was take a passport-style photo of myself to my local train station and I had my card within minutes. This one costs £12 for a whole year, but you are limited to only travelling on key Valley and Cardiff routes.
Another option is the 16-25 Railcard. These can be bought online for either £30 (a year) or £70 (three years) in either a physical or digital format. You’ll need a passport-style photo on your device and a passport/driver’s license to verify your identity. Although more expensive, you get a much wider scope for travel with these cards. Plus, if you reverify before your 25th birthday, you can carry on using the card until it expires!
The 16-25 Railcard wasn’t worth the extra cost to me as I only travel between Cardiff and Trefforest, but it’s a real money saver if you’re likely to travel across the UK. Just make sure you carry your railcard with you on all journeys. If you can’t show it then they can charge you a full fare.
In my first year, I caught the bus to my campus as I lived right next to a direct bus route. Although it took 40 minutes, it gave me plenty of time to catch up on my reading for that week.
Something that really saved my money was the ‘My Travel Pass’. Available through the Welsh Government, it offers 30% off of bus travel for all 16-21 years old. Though this probably won’t cover all your time at university but every little helps. Apply via their website, phone or post, and you can use it with digital or physical tickets.
Just like the trains, make sure you have it on you to show if asked.
This may sound silly, but it’s honestly one of the easiest ways to get around. If your campus is in the city centre, then I really recommend seeing if you can walk it.
Cardiff is renowned for tricky traffic and limited parking spaces, so save money (and honestly, time) and walk to your destination. Cardiff is a pretty flat city, so I’m always walking to work, down to the bay, or to the outskirts of the city. It’s a great way to save money, you get to see the sights, and it’s a great way to get some exercise.
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