Transportation around the area comes in a variety of forms, from taking public transportation to driving your own car. Here are some tips for getting around.
The Centre Area Transportation Authority, which operates a public bus system serving the State College area and beyond, carries thousands of riders a day and is supported by fees paid by riders, contributions from the municipalities it serves, Penn State and federal and state funding.
Campus bus service
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Blue and White Loops provide free service around the Penn State campus and downtown State College. The routes run at the same times and cover the same general territory. The White Loop covers downtown and campus via Beaver Avenue, and the Blue Loop covers downtown and campus via College Avenue. Red and Green Links provide free service on Curtin Road and Park Avenue between the east and west ends of campus. The Red Link runs between Innovation Park and the White Course Apartments (West Campus), and the Green Link runs between the Beaver Stadium parking lots and North Atherton Street. Schedules vary with the Penn State academic calendar.
This service consists of 23 community bus routes, which provide service between downtown State College, the Penn State campus, Bellefonte, Pleasant Gap, various shopping centers, apartment complexes and residential areas.
The CATA customer service center at 108 E. Beaver Ave., State College, is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
CATA offers mobile phone applications for Android and iPhone users that include real-time bus locations, route maps and schedule information. Download the apps through the Google Play store or the Apple App Store.
Real-time next bus arrival times can be accessed for a specific stop by texting CB and the stop number to 321-123. For example, for the College and Allen bus stop, text CB1 (bus stop 1). Numbers are displayed at each stop. You can also scan the QR code on the CATA schedule at each stop.
Whether you’re new to the area or just need a refresher on using the bus system, a series of online tutorial videos is available on CATA’s website — www.catabus.com — and click on “how-to videos.” They will show you how to ride the bus, read the bus schedules, use the bus-mounted bike racks and more.
Bus riding tips
• As the bus approaches, signal the driver, then stand back from the curb. Board the bus at the front door and have your money or bus pass ready. Don’t talk on your cellphone while boarding, and if you are wearing ear buds, remove at least one.
• Eating or drinking on the bus is prohibited.
• If you are a student, chances are you’re riding some very busy buses, such as the N, R, V, Loops and Links. During peak times, the buses get crowded and you should move as far to the back of the bus as possible.
• If you need to take more than one bus to complete your one-way trip, ask the driver for a transfer when you get on the bus. You might not receive the transfer until you get off, but knowing ahead of time helps the driver and, if the bus is running late, he can help ensure you won’t miss your next bus. Transfers are free, are good for an hour after you get off the first bus and are valid for a one-way trip.
• While CATA understands that there are sometimes big purchases you need to make — such as plywood or a big-screen television — those items cannot be taken onto the bus. So you can determine what can safely be transported, refer to CATA’s carry-on policy online.
• Bus passes are not transferable.
Parking a car
It’s possible to find parking and avoid getting ticketed in State College and on Penn State’s campus — if you know where to look.
More than 420 metered parking spots are available on downtown streets, and you can use quarters, dimes, nickels or cash keys to pay the $1 an hour cost. Cash keys let you park by inserting the key, which can be purchased at the parking office, 243 S. Allen St., into the meter. Payment can also be made through the Parkmobile app. To set up an account once the app is downloaded, go to www.parkmobile.com.
Street meters are enforced from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. At meters in borough-owned parking lots, the rate is 75 cents an hour; those meters are enforced from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. All parking at borough street meters is free after 10 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays and all day Sundays. Watch the color of the meters. Gold means 90-minute to two-hour parking is allowed; red is for 30-minute parking; and silver is for five-hour parking.
A parking deck in the 100 block of McAllister Street has three- and five-hour meters. Its second level, though, is reserved for monthly renters from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.
Electronic payment kiosks at borough-owned lots (West Beaver Avenue, South Allen Street and the first floor of the McAllister deck) take credit cards, coins and the parking app, but a vehicle’s license plate number must be entered.
Three parking garages downtown, on the 100 blocks of South Pugh and South Fraser streets and the 200 block of West Beaver Avenue, are open 24 hours a day. The first 30 minutes are always free. The rate is 50 cents a half-hour from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The rate is reduced to 50 cents an hour from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Drivers can use EZ Cards for garage parking. For information, see the Beaver Avenue garage parking attendant or call 278-4769.
Free parking is available Sundays in the garages and all municipal lots, except for weekends with football games or special events.
Parking isn’t allowed on many borough streets from 2 to 6 a.m. Violators can be ticketed. The police department can grant temporary exceptions if a request is placed by calling the nonemergency number, 234-7150.
Fines range from $6 to $50 and are higher for parking illegally in handicapped spaces or in fire lanes. After 72 hours, the cost of an unpaid ticket increases. You can pay parking tickets at www.statecollegepa.us or mail ticket payments to or drop them off at the State College Municipal Building, 243 S. Allen St., State College, PA 16801.
For additional parking information, including details about renting spaces from the borough, call 234-7131.
The parking office also can provide information on permits, which are often necessary if you want to park on a residential street for more than two hours at a time. Keep in mind: Towing costs easily can run about $80 or more. In addition, the rates listed here are subject to change.
If you live on campus
Sophomores, juniors and seniors living on campus are eligible to buy a campus parking permit. Prices range from $20 a week (two weeks maximum) to $288 or $640 for two semesters. Parking is limited and is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you live off campus
Spaces are available in the commuter lots, which are not valid for overnight parking. A limited number of special parking permits is available for those who live off campus. They allow students to park in their assigned campus lot 24/7. Rates for those permits range from $18 a week (two weeks maximum) to $351 for the fall and spring semester. Prices for commuter permits are $55 per semester or $90 for fall and spring.