Transportation Options

The College has several initiatives and partnerships with local public transportation systems to make traveling easier for students and better for the environment. These public transportation methods are more sustainable, and help reduce Williams’ emissions levels. Determining the environmental impact of these activities, and how to work on reducing those impacts has proved challenging and may remain so.

The listing below makes it easy for students to minimize fossil fuel use and prioritize sustainability in the midst of their busy lives. Whether your destination is North Adams, Albany, Boston, or beyond, this database presents reasonably priced and sustainable transportation options for any trip as an alternative to having your own car on campus, as well as a review of the transportation options Williams has for its own staff and faculty.

Manual Transportation

  • Purple Bike Coalition

    What is the Purple Bike Coalition? The Purple Bike Coalition (PBC) is Williams College's free bike service organization located on the ground floor of Mark Hopkins building. They offer bike repair services and a free bike loan program called the Purple Bike Rental (PBR).

    What does it cost? PBC's services are free to all Williams students.

    How do I use it? 

    1. To borrow a bike, follow the easy steps outlined below and on the PBC website.
    2. First, register for the PBR program.
    3. Sign the liability waiver.
    4. Request a bike! Be aware that the program is popular and bikes may not always be available.
    5. Be sure to check PBC's schedule for pick-ups; you will need to request your bike several days in advance and the program isn't open every day.
    6. Make sure to return your bike by the required date.
    7. If you already own your own bike (which must be registered with Campus Safety and Security), you can bring it to the open hours on the PBC website for repairs.

    Where can I go? Anywhere, as long as you're willing to bike all the way there! Williams Cycling suggests a range of possible rides ("beginner" to "difficult" and everything in between) on their website. Ask the Williams Outing Club (WOC) for ride suggestions or join one of their bike trips!

    Where do I leave the bikes? As you cruise around campus, you'll see that bike racks abound.  Here's a map of all bike racks on campus. There are also sixteen bike lockers on campus – each compartment is divided into two – which are located between Sawyer Library, Sewall House, and the Class of ’66 Environmental Center. Installed specifically for people who commute by bike to campus, they are a secure and dry place to store your bike during the day between commutes.

  • Walking is not only cost-free but also the most environmentally conscious form of transportation (even preferable to cycling, as no extra equipment must be manufactured and transported). It’s a healthy option to experience the beauty of the Berkshires and get around this small community. If you live off-campus, try walking instead of driving to classes/work… help to encourage a walking culture on campus whenever possible!

    Where can I go? Potential destinations for a walker depend, of course, on the individual’s willingness and ability. Here’s the round trip mileage for some nearby spots:

    • Stop & Shop: 4.2 miles round trip
    • Wild Oats: 1.8 miles round trip
    • Colonial Plaza (Rite Aid, Asian Mini Market, etc): 2.2 miles round trip

    Hiking:

    • The Berkshires contain an amazing network of trails! The Appalachian Trail crosses Route 2 in North Adams just outside of Williamstown (a short walk from Stop & Shop). Take the BRTA bus to access it! Day hikes on the AT could include Mount Williams, Mount Prospect, Mount Greylock, and so much more.
    • Vermont’s Long Trail begins at the Williamstown border, and the Taconic Crest Trail (which passes the snowhole!) lies just over the border in New York state.
    • Be sure to contact the Williams Outing Club (WOC) for information about local trails! For $10.00 a year, you can become a WOC member and borrow any necessary equipment for outdoor adventures. WOC also sells a detailed guide to Berkshire trails.
    • One of the most popular local trails is the Pine Cobble trail, which offers beautiful views of Williamstown. The WOC website offers directions here. Every Friday, WOC leads a sunrise hike up Pine Cobble.
    • The Williamstown Rural Land Foundation maintains a network of hiking trails around Williamstown. Check out their website for detailed descriptions.

Personal Vehicles

  • All of these services are free, but if you're requesting a ride, be sure to offer to pay for gas or split the cost! Ride shares ensure that no more cars than necessary will be on the road, which decreases carbon emissions.

    WSO

    WSO is a website where Williams students can access a range of forums and databases about campus life. The ride share section allows students to post requests for ride shares or offer ride shares to fellow students.

    • Log onto WSO with your Williams email account to post a request, offer a ride, or view current requests/offers.
    • Requests and offers are sorted by date of potential ride.
    • You can create a Switchboard account with your college email account or by following the instructions on the Communications website.

    Slack

    Slack is a Williams-wide group chat and messaging platform open to all students after creating an account. One of the channels accessible to students is #rides, where students can request and offer rides to others.

    Switchboard

    Switchboard is a website similar to WSO where people can post offers and requests, but it's available to anyone in the Williams community, not just students. More information about Switchboard can be found here.

  • What is Zipcar? Zipcar is a care rental service available to Williams students, faculty, and staff. After signing up, you can rent one of the four Williams Zipcars by the hour or by the day. Detailed information and instructions can be found at the Facilities website

    What does it cost? Signing up for Zipcar is free but the service costs $25 per year. To drive one of the Honda Civic Hybrids, you'd pay $8 per hour or $60 per day. To drive the Honda Element or Mini Cooper, you'd pay $11 per hour or $60 per day. This includes 180 free miles per day! Additional miles start at $0.35 each. You can add other drivers to your account for $35 each annually.

    How to use it: 

    1. To sign up for Zipcar, you must be 18 or older, have had a driver's license for at least one year, and had no accidents, major violations, or alcohol/drug-related violations. Detailed requirements can be found here.
    2. Gas, insurance, and reserved parking  at Williams are all covered.
    3. Join Zipcar here.
    4. Select "Join with a university" and choose Williams College.
    5. Select the appropriate group from the drop down menu.
    6. Fill out the application (you will need a valid driver's license and debit or credit card).
    7. Your Zipcard will be mailed to you in about a week.
    8. To reserve a car, log into http://www.zipcar.com.
    9. Be sure to follow all instructions on the website and return your car by the designated time!
    10. The cars have reserved spots in the lower level of the Greylock parking garage.
    11. Use your Zipcard to unlock the car. The keys are inside.
    12. Use the gas card in the car to fill the tank. Make sure to return the car with the tank at least a quarter full.

    Where does it go? Anywhere!

  • Williams owns and operates 70 vehicles, of which one is plug-in electric and 3 are gasoline-electric hybrids. Some vehicles are dedicated to individual departments, while others are available for rental by any member of the campus community. Some of these vehicles are used primarily on campus, while others are driven much further afield.

    Van Rental

    What is the Williams College van rental? Students can rent college-owned vans for college activities (entries, clubs, and other student organizations are eligible). Detailed information can be found at the Facilities website.

    What does it cost? Student organizations should have budgets to pay for gas and other necessary expenses.

    How do I use it?

    1. The college rents both minivans and 12-passenger vans.
    2. Students must obtain a van license from Facilities and present a clean driving record.
    3. Be aware that vans are in demand; plan for your trip well in advance!
    4. Follow the detailed instructions on the Facilities website.
    5. Be sure to pay attention to potential fines or restrictions!
    6. The Facilities website also includes information about emergency protocol.

    Where does it go? Anywhere!

Buses

  • What is BRTA? BRTA is a bus service that provides public transportation services to its 24 member communities within Berkshire County. Fixed route service is provided by fourteen bus routes in 12 communities from Williamstown to Great Barrington, Monday through Saturday. More info can be found at the BRTA website and the Center for Learning in Action website.

    What does it cost? BRTA is free for Williams students who show their college ID.

    How do I use it? 

    1. Select the appropriate bus line for your intended trip (Williams students should select the #3 line or the #3.1 Williamstown/North Adams shuttle if they are traveling outbound from Wiliamstown toward Stop & Stop or Main Street, North Adams. Both lines follow essentially the same route but at different times).
    2. The #3 line runs Monday-Saturday, 7:55 am - 5:25 pm.
    3. The #3.1 Williamstown/North Adams shuttle runs Monday-Friday, 11:25 am - 4:55 pm.
    4. Use the BRTA schedule to plan your trip.
    5. Be careful to select the correct day, route, and "inbound/outbound" option! On the #3 and #3.1 lines, "inbound" indicates travel toward North Adams, while "outbound" indicates travel toward Williamstown.
    6. To travel further afield, expect to transfer BRTA buses on Main Street, North Adams. This will be necessary if you want to travel to Wal-Mart or Pittsfield, for example. Those destinations both lie on the #1 line.
    7. To catch the #3 line, you can wait at BRTA's Williams Inn stop or at the kiosk on Route 2 in front of Lasell Gym. The bus arrives at the Williams Inn at the times indicated on the schedule. Expect the bus to arrive at the Route 2 kiosk several minutes after it is scheduled to pick up passengers at the inn.
    8. The #3.1 Williamstown/North Adams shuttle stops at the Williams Inn at the times indicated on the schedule. It makes an additional stop at Park Street, across from Paresky Center and in front of the '37 House.

    Where does it go? Wild Oats, Rite Aid/Colonial Plaza, Stop & Shop, Brayton Elementary, Main Street, North Adams (within walking distance of Mass MOCA, North Adams Movieplex 8, and many other restaurants, art galleries, and businesses), Wal-Mart, Pittsfield's Berkshire Mall, the Amtrak station in Pittsfield...

    BRTA BUS INFORMATION VIA SMARTPHONE 

    (from the CLiA website)

    From the FREE marketplace, install the RouteShout application.  Using your phone’s GPS location, this application will list nearby stops and provide the next available bus time.

    Or from your phone’s browser application:
    1. Type in: m.routeshout.com
    2. Choose RouteShout, then from the transit agency listing at the bottom of the page, locate the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority in Massachusetts
    3. From the main menu, choose either route, address, or “locate me”
    4. If you chose route, click on the route number, then your stop, for the next available bus time

  • What are the Sunday shuttles? Williams provides these local shuttles for students to visit local stories for necessities on a weekly basis.

    What does it cost? Nothing! Sunday shuttles are free.

    How do I use it? 

    1. View the schedule here and write down which times and places you need to remember
    2. Show up to Goodrich Hall (where the bus departs) 5-10 minutes before departure

    Where does it go? Wild Oats, Rite Aid/Colonial Plaza, Stop & Shop, Wal-Mart, Main Street North Adams

  • What is Williams Motorcoach? Williams Motorcoach is the busing service that connects students to transportation hubs (Boston, NYC, and Albany) before and after official college breaks and occasionally for weekend trips.

    What does it cost? As the FAQ states, rides to and from Albany International Airport cost $23.00 each way, rides to and from Boston cost $38.00 each way, and rides to and from NYC cost $42.00 each way. Tickets purchased more than 3 weeks will be purchased at a 15.6% discount.

    How do I use it?

    1. Check the schedule for dates and times.
    2. Book your tickets on Peoplesoft. Reservations open about 3 months before the Motorcoach runs and close at 9 pm the night before.
    3. Thoroughly peruse the Motorcoach FAQ for information about deadlines, refunds, E-tickets, pick up locationm destinations, what to do if you miss the bus, and other logistics.
    4. The Motorcoach always departs precisely on time! Keep this in mind.
    5. Weekend trips to NYC and Boston are also occasionally available. Take a look at that schedule here.

    Where does it go? NYC, Boston, and Albany.

  • What is the Green Mountain Express? Green Mountain Express is a bussing service based in Bennington, VT. It links Williamstown to Bennington and offers service to other Vermont towns and beyond.

    What does it cost? Prices vary, but the Williamstown-Bennington route costs only $1.

    How do I use it?

    1. The Purple Line connects Williamstown to Bennington and runs Monday-Friday, 7:00 am - 3:40 pm.
    2. It makes stops at the Williams Inn, various businesses in Pownal, VT, and downtown Bennington.
    3. For $2 more, take the Orange Line to Manchester, VT.
    4. From Bennington, Vermont Translines (a separate bus service) offers transportation to Rutland, Burlington, and other Vermont cities.
    5. Check out this page for tips about connecting to other places in the area.

    Where does it go? Pownal, Bennington, Manchester, Brattleboro, and other Vermont towns. Bus service to Bennington offers transportation to Bennington College and Southern Vermont College. Check out the Bennington Farmer's Market for locally-sourced food options!

  • What is the Peter Pan bus? Peter Pan Bus Lines is a bussing service that links states across the northeast, including Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

    What does it cost? Prices vary depending on the selected route and time. Tickets from Williamstown to New York City can cost around $30. A ticket to Philadelphia may cost around $50.

    How do I use it?

    1. Purchase tickets here.
    2. The bus leaves from the Williams Inn twice daily (10 am and 4 pm).

    Where does it go? Anywhere! You can easily connect to other trains and buses through the Peter Pan Bus's Penn Station stop.

Trains

  • What is Amtrak? Amtrak is a railroad service with two stops near Williamstown: Pittsfield, MA and Rensselaer, NY.

    What does it cost? Prices range from $20 to $80 depending on the destination and time. You can find trains from Pittsfield to Boston for $20 to $30!

    How do I use it?

    1. Purchase your ticket online, selecting either Pittsfield, MA (PIT) or Albany-Rensselaer (ALB) as your origin
    2. To get to Pittsfield, use BRTA or WSO Ride Share/Switchboard. To get to the Albany-Renssalaer station, try the WSO Ride Share/Switchboard or a Zipcar.

    Where does it go? Taking the train from Albany to NYC is usually the fastest way to get into the city. Amtrak links cities across the country, so potential destinations are practically endless.