Carnegie Mellon is located at the junction of three major neighborhoods (Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, and Oakland) and is within walking distance of restaurants and shops. For traveling longer distances, you may want to consider using a bike, bus, or taxi.
The easiest and least expensive means of transportation in Pittsburgh is the local bus transportation provided by the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT). Schedules for the various routes throughout the city may be obtained from the Information Desk in the University Center (on campus), by going to the PAT website or by calling PAT customer service at 412- 442-2000 and asking specific questions such as, “How do I get from CMU to the Waterfront shopping center?” Also, Google Transit provides very good public transportation information service for selected US cities, including Pittsburgh.
All degree-seeking students are charged a Port Authority Fee each semester. Your student identification card (ID) will show a small picture of a bus, which will serve as a bus pass, good for unlimited free use of the entire city bus system including the “T” (the subway between downtown, the South Hills, and the inclines). Family members may find it economical to purchase coupons for a weekly, a monthly, or even a yearly bus pass. Passes can be purchased on campus at the PAT office downtown, or at local banks, department stores, and grocery stores.
- Visitors who are Carnegie Mellon staff or faculty employees (i.e., paid by Carnegie Mellon) and who are benefits-eligible will receive a CMU ID with a white bus icon on it. This will serve as a bus pass, good for unlimited free use of the entire city bus system.
- For visitors who are not Carnegie Mellon benefits-eligible staff or faculty and for family members, the basic fare for bus service is $2.50 and $1.25 for a child 6-11 years old. Children under five ride free. Exact fare is required on all buses. Drivers do not carry change (fares subject to change).
- Sometimes it is necessary to take two buses in order to reach a destination. If this is the case, a transfer can be purchased from the bus driver. A transfer can be used to pay the fare on your second bus (including return trips if used within 3 hours of purchase). Transfers cost $0.50 for children under the age of 12 otherwise it is $1.00 per person. Family members may find it economical to purchase coupons for a weekly, a monthly, or even a yearly bus pass.
- Passes and coupons may be purchased at the PAT office downtown, or at local banks, department stores, and grocery stores.
Carnegie Mellon Shuttle
Carnegie Mellon operates a shuttle service daily during the regular academic terms from 6:45 am to 10:45 pm between campus and nearby off-campus locations. There is also an escort service available from 6:30 pm to 6:40 am. The shuttle follows a designated route and the escort service operates within a 1.5-mile radius of campus. All students and their dependents may use these services for free. More information about these services is available from University Police.
Purchasing a Car
Owning a car in the US can be expensive. There are ownership costs (purchase price, taxes, depreciation, finance charges, registration, insurance, license fees, parking, etc.) as well as operating costs (gas, oil, annual inspections, engine maintenance, tires, etc.). If you’d like to research this option, Consumer Reports Magazine and Car and Driver Magazine are good resources. You can also visit CarEverything and NADA for more information. Automobile insurance rates for people who are new to the US are usually inflated until a driving history has been established. Be aware that parking on campus is very difficult and costly to obtain and is limited in many residential neighborhoods close to campus. Obtaining a Pennsylvania driver’s license may also be difficult. Do not purchase a car without first determining if you’ll be able to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license, which you must have before you are able to register the car. You may wish to discuss auto insurance for the US with your current auto insurance company at home.
Pennsylvania Driver’s License
You will only be able to receive a Pennsylvania driver’s license if your I-20, DS-2019 or H-1B status is valid for more than one year. If you will stay less than one year, and you would like to drive, you must bring your valid current home-country license and the international drivers permit (in English). Students and scholars who will stay for more than one year should apply for the Pennsylvania Driver’s License soon after arrival. To receive a driver’s license, you will need to pass (1) a vision test and physical exam, (2) a written knowledge test, and (3) a driving test. Further directions can be found at the Pennsylvania DMV website and also on the OIE handout (.pdf).