Walking: If you live close to campus and work, this is the cheapest option. It is also a healthy option, as walking can help you shape up. Make sure you use good shoes for your walks.
Bicycle: This seemed to be a popular option for the students that lived on campus at my university. You can get bikes for $50 or less used.
Scooter/Motorcycle: Scooters can get around 60mpg, but their tanks are usually small (1-2 gallons). They can make excellent short range vehicles. I checked my local Craigslist and I found some for $900 and less. Motorcycles have bigger tanks and great mileage. You would have to get a special license for one and they cost more than scooters.
Bus/Mass Transportation: If you live in a city with reliable transportation, consider yourself fortunate.
Used Car: If you ask and dig around, you can sometimes get a fantastic deal on a used car. When I needed a car, but was lacking serious funds, I told everyone I knew that I was looking for a cheap car.
I was able to get a Geo Prizm for $500. It was a manual, so I had to learn to drive it. It was not fancy at all, but I got 30mpg on it (Toyota engine). It was pretty cheap to insure it and I was able to go to work and school.
A lot cheap cars aren’t advertised. I heard from a friend of a friend about this car. The man was selling it as his daughter had gotten a new car. Th engine and transmission were in good condition.
Car Sharing: My university partnered with a car sharing company and offered this as an option for students who didn’t want a car, but needed to get around.
The costs vary from location, but around here, I’ve seen it for $5/hour and that includes insurance and gas. Zipcar is available in many cites.
Finding cheap transportation doesn’t have to be impossible. Just use some creative thinking and you can even surprise yourself.
Photo Credit: Todd Baker << technowannabe