Chapel Hill Transit
Bus service in and around the University is provided by Chapel Hill Transit. All of Chapel Hill Transit's bus routes converge on the University. Two routes, the "U" and "RU" circle the campus exclusively in opposite directions while the remaining routes provide transportation to and from the shopping and residential areas of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Information about Chapel Hill Transit's bus routes and schedules.
Triangle Transit, the regional transit system offers regular bus and van service between Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and many points in between. Fares range from $1 to $2, and transfers to local bus services such as CAT, DATA and Chapel Hill Transit are provided at a discount. For route maps or information contact Triangle Transit at 919.549.9999 or visit Triangle Transit's web site.
Intercity Bus Service
Greyhound Bus Service and Carolina Trailways provide service to cities throughout the United States. For information on fares/schedules for both companies call 1.800.231.2222.
Bicycles are fun, inexpensive, flexible, healthy means of getting around campus. Bicycles are reasonably safe as long as you learn and obey the traffic regulations. You may find some adjustments necessary when you first arrive in the United States, since many American motorists are not accustomed to maneuvering around cyclists. When you ride a bicycle, you are responsible for following the same rules that motorists do. Helmets are recommended, as are reflectors for night riding. Bicyclists are reminded to follow the rules of the road and legally park in bicycle racks.
The University has bicycle information on the Department of Public Safety website. For city, county and statewide bicycle route information, contact North Carolina Department of Transportation, Bicycle Program, P.O. Box 25201, Raleigh, NC 27611, 919.733.2804.
Zipcar: a car-sharing service that UNC participates in. Several cars are parked on campus, which, for a small fee, you can reserve hourly for up to three days with a US or international driver's license. This is a wonderful resource for international students at UNC who might not want to purchase a vehicle. Please read below and go to the link BEFORE you leave your home country, as you will need to obtain some documentation prior to arriving.
Thousands of foreign drivers use Zipcar. We accept drivers from every country. You will need to contact your country's vehicle records department to obtain an official copy of your driving record (translated into English), or if your country does not have a department of motor vehicles, you will need to contact your old automobile insurance provider and obtain adequate insurance documentation of driving history from them. Don't worry, it's not as daunting as it sounds.
More details: http://www.zipcar.com/apply/foreign-drivers
Driving a Car
We do not recommend you buy a car while attending UNC-CH because parking is difficult to obtain and will be about a mile or more from where you will be living. If you decide to buy a car, you must first decide whether to buy a new or used car. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. New cars are generally more expensive than used cars. But new cars come with a guarantee (a warranty) that certain defects appearing within one year or more of purchase will be repaired at no cost. New cars are easier to finance (secure a loan). Used cars are generally less expensive, but used cars are more likely to have mechanical problems. If you decide to buy a used car, take it to a professional mechanic first to look it over closely. Anyone selling a good used car won't object to your being cautious.
When buying a car, you may need to take out a loan. Both car dealers and banks can set up loans; talk to several to find out who is offering the lower interest rates. When you borrow money, you have to pay a certain percentage of the total purchase price immediately (this is called a down payment). You pay back the borrowed amount, plus the interest charged, in monthly installments.
When you purchase a car, you must also purchase insurance. It is against the law in North Carolina for anyone to own and operate a car without having liability insurance. Liability coverage provides payment to the other party involved in an accident that is your fault. Liability insurance does not cover damage to your property. If you borrow money to buy a car, you must also have collision coverage until you have completely paid off the loan balance. Collision insurance pays for any damage done to your vehicle.
Due to the requirement that a driver must have liability insurance, it is getting difficult for drivers without a car to obtain a license. There are two solutions to this problem. Firstly, it is possible to obtain a restricted driver's license which limits use to just fleet and rental cars. Secondly, insurance agencies sell auto liability insurance for people who don't own a car. Contact auto insurance agencies for more details and prices.
To be sure you understand the rules governing insurance, consult a North Carolina auto insurance agent (listings are available in the yellow pages of the phone book).
Registering your vehicle with the state
All automobiles must be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles and must display a valid, updated license plate. To register your vehicle and purchase a license plate you must go to a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) location.
In general, you will need to bring proof of ownership (title, registration, or bill of sale), your insurance policy, and cash or a check. However, the regulations vary depending on the particular situation, so it is best to call first.
Vehicle Safety Inspection
A North Carolina vehicle safety inspection is required within 10 days of receiving a North Carolina license plate. Most service stations, automobile dealerships and vehicle repair garages are licensed inspections stations.
If the vehicle fails the safety inspection, it cannot be operated beyond the expiration date on the current certificate. However, the owner will have 90 days in which to correct any safety defects and qualify the vehicle's re-inspection at no additional cost, provided the owner pre-sents a receipt of the initial inspection. If, in the meantime, the inspection certificate expires, a single trip permit must be obtained from the DMV to drive the vehicle to the inspection station for re-inspection.
North Carolina Driver's License
Before you can operate any motor vehicle, you must obtain a valid driver's license. International driver licenses are not valid in North Carolina. Should you decide to apply for a North Carolina driver's license, you will need to pass a written test. Study booklets and additional information are available at the Driver's License Office, Carrboro Plaza Shopping Center off Highway 54, 919.929.4161.
There are a number of requirements that must be satisfied in order to obtain a North Carolina driver's license.
- You must be able to drive and know the rules of driving in North Carolina. There is both a written and a driving test. For the driving test you will need to provide your own car.
- You need proof that you are covered by liability insurance. Obtain a form DL123 from your auto insurance agency.
- You must prove your identity with at least two forms of identification such as a passport, I-20 form, IAP-66 form, birth certificate or social security card. A student card is not accepted as proof of identification.
- You must prove that you are currently living in North Carolina. A student ID or class schedule should be evidence of this.
Non-drivers can get an official identification card from the driver's license office. These are useful to show as a photo ID when writing checks. To obtain this the above requirements 3, 4, and 5 must be met.
North Carolina Traffic Rules
For your convenience, we have listed specific traffic rules that apply in North Carolina.
- Child restraints (car seats): A child restraint is a special car seat designed for infants and young children that helps protect them from injury during sudden stops or car crashes. They can be purchased from department stores with prices ranging from $30 to $100. If you obtain a "used" car seat please make sure that it is in good condition and that you contact the manufacturer if the instruction booklet is missing (most car seats have a toll-free number printed on them). The use of car seats is mandatory for children eight years of age and younger. There is a fine for noncompliance.
- Driver's License: You must carry your drivers' license whenever you operate a motor vehicle.
- Right Turn on Red: You may turn right at a red light after stopping, unless prohibited by a "NO TURN ON RED" sign.
- Headlight Use: Headlights must be used whenever weather conditions necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
- Motorcyclists must use headlights whenever the motorcycle is in operation.
- Seat Belts: Use of seat belts is mandatory for the driver and front seat passengers. There is a fine for noncompliance.
- School Buses: School buses are painted bright yellow. Vehicles (on both sides of the street) must stop for school buses loading or unloading passengers.
- Drunk Driving: A motorist is guilty of Driving While Impaired (DWI) if their blood alcohol concentration meets or exceeds 0.08 percent. Conviction of Driving While Impaired can result in large fines, imprisonment and revocation of your license.
- Vehicle Registration Card: You must keep the registration card in your car at all times.
Parking on Campus
Information on parking on campus can be found on the UNC Department of Public Safety website.
Train Service (AMTRAK)
Most passenger rail service in the United States is handled by AMTRAK. For information on AMTRAK Services throughout the United States, call toll free 1.800.872.7245 (1.800.USA.RAIL). Local travel agencies may be able to help you choose a route and purchase tickets. Check listings in the yellow pages of the phone book.
The Raleigh/Durham International Airport is located about 15 miles east of Chapel Hill by the Interstate 40 highway. Airlines serving the Triangle area are American, Continental, Delta, United, USAir, Northwest, AirTran, and others. For reservations, you should contact the airline or travel agent. A travel agent will be able to give you the prices and timetables of several airlines (usually free of charge). Airlines and travel agents are listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book. To contact the airport authority, call 919.840.2123.