Transportation

Austin is a big place. Here are some helpful tips and tricks on how to get around via bus, bike, and car.

Bus

All UT Shuttles and Capital Metro bus & lightrail services are FREE with your UT Photo ID! Check out where you can go on Capital Metro's system map. More information for all Austin buses and shuttles: (512) 474-1200.

Bike

Bicycle Registration

All students, faculty, and staff must register their bicycles (operated or parked on campus) with PTS. After registering, your free UT Bicycle Registration decal is mailed to you. The decal should be placed on the bicycle's frame on the bar that supports the seat. Call (512) 471-7275 for more information.

Bicycle Parking

Bikes must be parked only at designated bike racks and lockers. Bikes parked on stairs or secured to handrails, wheelchair ramps, and pedestrian walkways are subject to impoundment and a fine. Owners will not be reimbursed for the cost of locks cut during impoundments.

  • Buy a quality lock. A coated U-lock is recommended for highest security. Make sure both your frame and wheel are securely locked to the bicycle rack.
  • Wearing a helmet while riding is required by law and may prevent death or serious injury in the case of an accident.
  • Obey traffic signs. You must follow all road rules while riding your bike, including stopping at red lights and stop signs.
  • As a vehicle, you must yield to pedestrians and other vehicles. Don't ride on sidewalks and walkways – walk your bike instead.
  • Stay in your lane. The campus-wide speed limit is 15 mph. By riding in the center of the traffic lane, you are more visible to cars behind you and parked cars waiting to back out.
  • Lights at night. State law requires a white headlight and red rear reflector.
  • Bus etiquette. Buses pull to the right hand side of the road to load and unload passengers.

Car

Renting a car

  • You must be at least 21 years old to rent a car.
  • To drive a car in Texas, you must have liability insurance. If you do not have this type of insurance, you will have to pay for it on a day-to-day basis.

Rental car companies

The following companies are located at the Austin airport and are open 7 days a week.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Open 6:30 a.m. – Midnight
(800) 257-1136

Alamo Rent-A-Car
Open 6:00 a.m. – Midnight
(888) 826-6893

Advantage Rent-A-Car
Open 6:00 a.m. – Midnight
(512) 389-2633

Ace Rental Cars
Open 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
(512) 961-5277

 

Hourly rental car/car-sharing companies

Services such as car2go and Zipcar rent cars on an hourly basis. They are usually app or web-based, allowing you to sign up from your phone or computer.

Buying a car

Buying a Used Car

Popular places to find used cars are Craigslist or the Classified Section of the Austin American Statesman. Contact the seller to get further information before you go see a car. Ask for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) when you speak with the owner. Buy a Carfax on-line subscription so that you can check the VIN number. (You may want to share the cost of Carfax among several friends who intend to buy a car.)

Set up a Budget

Keep in mind the expenses of auto insurance, sales tax, title application, vehicle registration, repairs, and maintenance, etc. You may compare prices at www.kbb.com. If you decide to buy from a private party, find an experienced driver to test-drive the car for you. Also, it is highly recommended that you take the car to an auto mechanic for a “buyer’s check.”

Car Titles and Registration

To avoid penalty, transfer the car’s Title within 20 working days from the date of purchase. Take your driver’s license and proof of insurance with you. See the Travis County Tax Office website for further details.

Auto Insurance

Contact a few insurance agencies. They should give you a FREE price quote. You need both your car VIN number and your driver's license number in order to buy insurance.

Driver's Licenses and ID Cards

Students and scholars who do not plan to drive in the U.S. should apply for a Texas Photo Identification Card at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). This card is not related to driving. It is useful as identification when a photo ID is required. There is a $16.00 fee for this card.

You will need the following documents in order to make your application:

  • Passport
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Form I-94
  • Current enrollment letter (you can get one from the Registrar’s Office, MAI Room 1)
  • Completed application
  • If you have a Social Security Number (SSN), present your Social Security card at the time of application. However, an SSN is not necessary to apply for a Texas ID.
  • You may be asked to show two items proving your current address, such as a lease or piece or mail with your name and address (cable, gas or electric bills are good choices). To avoid difficulties at DPS, ensure that your address matches on each document, including the room or apartment number. Your room number must be included if you live in a dormitory.

Students and scholars who will be in the U.S. for longer than 30 days and plan to drive a car should obtain a Texas Driver’s License at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Access to a car, knowledge of Texas driving regulations, as well as testable driving skills are basic requirements for a driver’s license. You must provide your own vehicle when taking the driving test.

Take the following steps to obtain your driver’s license:

  1. Study the information about traffic laws in the Texas Driver’s Handbook, which is available in both English and Spanish, from the Department of Public Safety (DPS), as well as on-line.
  2. Take the written and in-car examinations for driving at any DPS office. If you do not have a driver’s license from another state, you must take both a written and a driving test. There is an $11.00 fee, valid for three opportunities to take the test within a 90-day period.
  3. Pay the $25.00 fee for your Driver’s License.
  4. You will need the following documents in order to make your application:
    • Passport
    • I-20 or DS-2019
    • Form I-94
    • Current enrollment letter (you can get one from the Registrar’s Office, MAI, Room 1)
    • Completed application
    • Social Security card (if you are eligible to obtain an SSN). If you are not eligible for an SSN, you will need to sign a “Social Security Affidavit” at the DPS office when applying for your Texas Driver’s License.
    • You may be asked to show two items proving your current address, such as a lease or piece or mail with your name and address (cable, gas or electric bills are good choices). To avoid difficulties at DPS, ensure that your address matches on each document, including the room or apartment number. Your room number must be included if you live in a dormitory.

Note: If you own a car but do not have insurance, you will NOT be permitted to apply for a driver’s license. If possible, it is recommended that you apply for a driver’s license before you purchase a car.

Government agencies use the SAVE system, which stands for Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, to determine if you are in a valid immigration status before granting a benefit such as a driver’s license or social security number. Sometimes the officer assisting you at DPS may not be able to immediately verify your valid student or scholar visa status. If the DPS officer is not able to verify your status in the SAVE system, you should politely ask to speak with a supervisor. Supervisors at DPS may have more training in F-1 and J-1 visa issues and be better able to assist in the SAVE verification process. If a supervisor is not able to verify your valid student status, DPS should initiate a secondary verification process.

Here are some common reasons students and scholars are not able to get a Texas ID or driver’s license on the first try:

  1. You have gone to the DPS office too early. After you arrive in the U.S., the International Office updates your SEVIS record (I-20 or DS-2019) to show that you are here and that you have checked in with our office. Students should plan to wait at least 10 days from entering the U.S. and at least 2 days from registering for classes before visiting DPS. J-1 scholars should wait at least 10 days from entering the U.S. and 3 days after attending the J-1 Scholar Orientation. Transfer students and students who have an I-20 that has been updated for change of level will need to wait at least two days after checking in and registering for classes before visiting DPS.
  2. Inconsistencies in your immigration documents. If your name on your I-20 or DS-2019 does not match your passport exactly, please bring this to the attention of the International Office before visiting DPS.
  3. You have a pending change of status or OPT application. If you are changing to a new immigration status or you are applying for OPT, it may be difficult for the DPS officer to verify your valid status. If this is the case for you, be sure to ask to meet with a supervisor at DPS. Even if you meet with a supervisor, additional research may be required to verify your status. If this is the case, the DPS officer will initiate a secondary verification of your status. You should expect delays in the processing of your driver’s license or Texas ID if you have a pending OPT or STEM OPT application, you have a cap gap I-20, or you have a pending change of status application.

What to do if your status cannot be verified:

  1. Be sure to bring all immigration documents with you to your appointment with DPS:
    • If you have a pending change of status or OPT application, your status may need to be verified by using the USCIS case number instead of your SEVIS ID.
    • If you are on OPT and have a pending H1B petition, be sure to bring your cap gap I-20 with you, along with the I-797C receipt notice from USCIS.
  2. If DPS refers you to the UT International Office to discuss your status, collect as much information as possible, then make an appointment to meet with an international advisor. Ask the agency for details about the issue and take notes so an advisor in the International Office can best assist you:
    • Is secondary verification in SAVE in progress?
    • What is your SAVE verification case number?
    • What documents were reviewed in the visit?
    • What error message was received?
    • Which system or database was used?
    • If SAVE verification is not the issue, what other factors are making you ineligible for the benefit?
  3. You can monitor the progress of your secondary verification on the SAVE verification website. Be sure to ask DPS when you can return for services after your case has been resolved. Although your case may be resolved in SAVE, the information may take additional time to sync with agency databases.

International dependents (F-2, J-2, H-4, etc.) can obtain a Texas Driver’s License at the Texas Department of Public Safety Office (DPS). Access to a car, knowledge of Texas driving regulations, and testable driving skills are basic requirements for a driver’s license. You must provide your own vehicle when taking the driving test.

Take the following steps to obtain your driver’s license:

  1. If you are eligible to obtain an SSN (i.e. you are a J-2 dependent and have work authorization), take your EAD (Employment Authorization Document), passport, Form I-94 and DS-2019 to the Social Security Administration to apply for an SSN. It will take approximately two to four weeks to obtain your Social Security card. If you are not eligible for an SSN (i.e. you are an F-2 or H-4 dependent, or a J-2 dependent without work authorization), you will need to sign a “Social Security Affidavit” at the DPS office when applying for your Texas Driver’s License. Note: If you have already obtained an SSN from a previous visit to the U.S., you will not need to go to the Social Security Office. Simply present your Social Security card to the DPS when applying for your driver’s license.
  2. Follow steps 1 -3 of "Driver’s license for international visitors (F-1 and J-1)"
  3. You will need the following documents in order to make your application:
    • Passport
    • I-20 or DS-2019
    • Form I-94
    • Spouse’s current enrollment letter (if you are a dependent of a student)
    • Social Security card (if applicable)
    • Completed application

Regular office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vehicle and Title Registration Department (for questions concerning car registration) 512-465-300

Central Austin: 6121 North Lamar Blvd (512-424-2076) – open till 6 p.m. on Tuesdays

 

Northwest Austin: 13730 Research Blvd (512-506-2847) - open till 6 p.m. on Tuesdays

 

South Austin: 6425 South Interstate 35, Suite 180 (512-444-5241) - open till 6 p.m. on Tuesdays

 

Austin-Pflugerville Mega Center: 216 E. Wells Branch Parkway, Pflugerville, TX 78660 (512-486-2800)