To master the art of bus riding, it definitely helps to be a seasoned Banana Slug. But for those who may be a little confused about the whole concept, here’s some helpful bus etiquette.

Each quarter UC Santa Cruz grads and undergrads pay a transit fee of about $110 each toward the Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS). This money then goes into the TAPS budget, which pays for all of the Loop, Perimeter, Upper Campus, and of course the Core buses.

Metro buses are a whole other story. These bad boys are owned by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, not by the university. Technically, they’re only meant for getting on and off campus. However, this Metro privilege has been annoyingly abused.

Students often take the city bus between campus stops, such as from Cowell to College Nine. But each time a student rides a city bus, TAPS is charged roughly $1.25 per use. So if anyone was wondering why there are hardly any Loops anymore, it’s probably because TAPS is busy paying for all of our Metro trips across campus.

If TAPS is spending less money on its campus shuttles, then we definitely have a problem here.

There are many students who live off-campus and actually need a bus to get home. And while some of us are just hitching a quick ride from Science Hill to Kresge, the rest of us are left behind to wait another 45 minutes for the next Route 20 bus.

So Tip No.1 is to save Metro rides for getting to and from campus. Pass on the 16 and catch the Perimeter instead. Not only is it cost-effective, it’s more respectful.

Now here’s another alternative. Instead of hoarding every single bus stop, it wouldn’t do much harm to simply walk to class. Freshmen, now is the chance to walk off all of that late-night dining hall food and beer pong from the night before. Take some time to explore all of the nooks and crannies on campus. Guaranteed it won’t take any longer than 20 minutes to get anywhere, and it’s a beautiful walk.

For such a “green” campus, we seem to rely too much on public transit. Save those bus rides for when they’re really necessary. Take advantage of our beautiful school and you won’t be disappointed.

One more critical thing to know before obtaining your black belt in bus riding can be summed up in simply two words: MOVE BACK. When it’s crowded on a bus, and this bus is letting a plethora of people on, move to the back of the bus and let those people on. It might be slightly crowded, but if it’ll save a long and frustrating wait for the people standing at the bus stops, then take one for the team and bear those few minutes of mild discomfort.

So there it is — a few simple tips to help learn the ways of the bus-savvy Slug. And of course, always remember to give the bus driver a thank you and a smile, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that get us where we need to be.