Fordham Road has a particular way of being altered by the weather, turning even the most pleasant phenomenon into something much worse. A sunny day turns it into the Sahara, and a trek to the subway becomes an arduous and sweaty journey. A gentle snow makes the road a ski jump, and a slippery trip down the hill on your behind is only one misplaced step away. Rain turns the road into Sea World, where every taxi becomes a whale, trained to spray the innocent guests watching on the sidelines.
There is only one fix for Fordham students getting back and forth from the subway lines — the BX12. But to many students, New York City’s bus system is a mystery.
“I found about it this year, and I’m a junior. I’ve been here three years!” said Rebecca Morrison, GSB ’16. “So, it would’ve been nice to know before.”
Now, Morrison takes the bus to and from the subway six times a week when traveling to her internship at a makeup startup in Manhattan. After years of not knowing about the BX12, she has become quite passionate about the way it saves time on her commute.
“The bus changed my life because I got an extra five minutes of sleep,” Morrison said. “I can actually go and get a bagel. The bus really changed my life. It’s made me lazy!”
There are actually two different busses. The standard, or regular bus, makes multiple stops along Fordham Road immediately south of campus and continues making stops every few blocks as it continues west, including stops near the D train station at Grand Concourse and the 4 train station on Jerome Ave.
The alternate option is the BX12 Select Bus Service, or SBS. This bus — usually a newer model with special blue decals — makes many fewer stops, serving as an express option to get riders long distances more quickly.
The SBS makes only one stop near Rose Hill: along Fordham Road, immediately south of Walsh Library a quick walk from the Third Avenue gate. That bus goes straight to the D train, and then the 4, with no other stops in between.
Payment differs between the busses too. The BX12 regular requires the rider to dip their Metro Card on the bus, while the SBS, in order to save time, has riders swipe in at the bus stop and asks only for straphangers to carry a proof-of-payment receipt.
Those payment systems hide the BX12’s best-kept secret among Fordham students: it is a free transfer from the bus to the subway. The Metro Card stores information, “remembering” that a rider took the bus, so when it is swiped again at the subway turnstile, no more money is charged — $2.50 for the whole trip.
Crystal Gonzalez, GSB ’17, had just learned about the free transfer from her friend Alex Laird, FCRH ’17. The pair was interviewed waiting for the D train on a particularly cold February morning, but they had elected to walk the whole way rather than take the bus.
“I convinced her not to take the bus today because I wanted to walk,” said Gonzalez. “I like [the walk] up[hill] better. I feel like it goes so much faster. You look around, see what’s going on.”
That walk up the hill is not short. A charitable estimate puts the distance from Rose Hill’s freshman residences halls to the D train at a little over a half mile. If you are walking from O’Hare Hall, or one of the off-campus residences, the walk is closer to a mile — and it can feel like even more.
“I never realize how hard I’m working until I get to that last block [Valentine Ave.] when it starts to level out and all of a sudden it hits me at once,” said Alex DeSimine, GSB ’15, in a phone interview. “I realize that I’ve been walking pretty fast uphill… kind of sneaks up on you.”
DeSimine has been taking the BX12 since his freshman year, and bears a warning for any less-experienced bus-riders: always pay, even if it’s a free transfer.
“I was in a rush headed to work and I hopped on the BX12 [SBS] because it happened to be perfect timing — it arrived just as I got to the stop,” he said. “Turns out the timing wasn’t so perfect because when I got off the stop, there were police officers at every exit. I was the first one to get off — I was right in front of the door — so there was no escaping it. I tried to play the “dumb college freshman” card, but it didn’t work.”
The weather is not the only thing that seems to change on Fordham Road. Sometimes, it turns a short bus ride into a trip to the bank.
DeSimine continued: “I got charged 100 bucks because I didn’t pay $2.50.”