NJ TRANSIT offers college students the chance to travel for free

From Sept. 18 to 24, students who feel overcharged for their tuition, textbooks and C-store goods can appreciate at least one bargain their student status brings – free transportation via NJ TRANSIT.

Next week, students can ride NJ TRANSIT buses, trains and light rail for free with a valid student ID and a free ride coupon, which can be printed out from njtransit.com.

It’s the ideal time to take advantage of the fact that one of the world’s greatest metropolises is only an hour-and-a-half away.

“This is an annual promotion to encourage students not using mass transit currently to give it a try,” the NJ TRANSIT customer service team said in an e-mail.

Normally, students would pay $23 for a round-trip ticket between New York’s Penn Station and Trenton on a weekend.

“It’s a great incentive,” Emma Reuter, senior history major, said. “I’ll possibly visit the (Metropolitan Museum of Art) because (it has) a special exhibit, ‘Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing.’ I really began to appreciate Asian art after taking an art history course.”

She’ll top the culturally rich day off with dinner and drinks at a club.

Students at the College have three nearby stations from which they can take a train into Penn Station via the Northeast Corridor Line: Trenton, Hamilton and Princeton Junction.

Trenton is often the preferred station because it can be reached by taking the 601 NJ TRANSIT bus that stops outside Brower Student Center.

This works for students without cars or who don’t want to worry about parking. But be safe and travel in groups: it can be a shady area (take it from the girl who was stranded on a Trenton street corner waiting for a no-show bus).

The Hamilton station, located on Sloan Avenue just off Interstate 295 at Exit 65B, and the Princeton Junction station, located on Wallace Road, are more aesthetically pleasing, if not safer.

While parking spots are hard to come by on a weekday with commuters, the lots are emptier on weekends. Both lots charge $3 for the day.

Once you download your free ride coupon, there is no limit to how often you can use it, but you will have to show it to the driver or conductor each time you ride.

For bus and train schedules, visit njtransit.com or pick up a copy at the Brower Student Center information desk.

Not New York City savvy yet?

Here are five picks to get you started.

(When you arrive, get an unlimited use MetroCard for $7, so you can explore without paying $2 for each subway ride.)

1. For your next Facebook pic: Madame Tussauds

234 W. 42nd St. between 7th and 8th avenues, subway to Times Square

Pose with uncanny doubles of your favorite celebrities at this famous wax museum. The Taper Room offers guests a personalized experience where they can work with a creative team to formulate a unique feel and atmosphere while they mingle with a wide range of wax figurines.

2. For relaxation: Central Park

Get away from the hustle and bustle by taking a stroll in Central Park. You can visit the zoo, play Frisbee on the Great Lawn or climb Belvedere Castle, which looks like the mini-version of a European landmark. The park is also home to several historic sites, including a statue of William Shakespeare and a war memorial dedicated to the 107th Infantry.

3. For theater: Broadway show lotteries

You’re testing your luck on this one, but if you win a lottery for Broadway show tickets, you’ll be sitting front row for $25. Three hours before show time, box offices usually raffle off tickets or sell them on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call the office ahead of time to find out their policy (aim for something other than “Jersey Boys” or “Wicked,” possibly the two hottest shows right now).

For those of you who would rather not chance your Broadway fate, there are two TKTS locations, one at Times Square and one at South Street Seaport, which offer tickets at discounts ranging from 25 to 50 percent off on the day of the show.

4. For dinner with friends: Carmine’s

200 W. 44th St., subway to Times Square

This family-style restaurant in the theater district offers delicious and plentiful Southern Italian cuisine. Order from the giant menus hanging on the wall, which is otherwise decorated with classy memorabilia.

5. For shopping: Beacon’s Closet

88 N. 11th St., Brooklyn, subway to Bedford Avenue

Ladies, this secondhand store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn could be a blow to your wallet. Brand-name clothing is often priced below $20 and there are plenty of designer labels to choose from: Betsey Johnson, Miss Sixty, Michael Kors and DKNY, to name a few. Treat yourself to a new outfit with the 20 bucks you’re saving on transportation.

– Information provided by Tammy Tibbetts, Staff Writer, and James Queally, Arts & Entertainment Assistant