You must have a valid license to drive in the U.S. The agency that issues driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania is called the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, known as PennDOT, or the Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV.
Pennsylvania honors a valid foreign driver’s license with an international driving permit for a period of up to one year. If the foreign license and/or international permit expire before one year, the individual must apply for a Pennsylvania learner’s permit to continue to drive in this state. If you have a valid driver’s license from another state or country it is advised that you review the Pennsylvania manual to be sure you are aware of all local laws and check with the PennDOT officials regarding validity. (Links are provided below to the manual and website.)
PennDOT also issues state photo identification cards for those individuals who would like to have U.S. identification but do not intend to drive. (Note: Having a state-issued photo ID card is very helpful in many situations including domestic travel.) There are several PennDOT offices located throughout Philadelphia.
The closest full service PennDOT to the Drexel campuses is located at:
1530 S. Columbus Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Closed on Mondays
To obtain a license you may need to take both a written and driving test depending on whether or not you have an international driver’s license. When applying for a license, or photo ID card, you will need extensive documentation including proof of identity, proof of residence, completed PennDOT paperwork, and money order for the fee.
Pennsylvania law requires all Pennsylvania motor vehicle owners to maintain vehicle liability insurance (financial responsibility) on a currently registered vehicle. Vehicle liability insurance covers the property damage or injuries you may cause others in an automobile accident. (Financial Responsibility Overview).
Seat Belts and Car Seats
As stated in the driver manual, seat belts must be worn by all drivers and front seat passengers even if the vehicle has air bags. It is the responsibility of the driver to see that all passengers obey this law. There are special laws regarding children (anyone under 18) which state that they must always be wearing a seat belt or restrained in an age and weight appropriate car seat, booster seat, or other child restraint system. In addition to state law these rules are also enforced by federal law. Please refer to chapter 5 in the Driver Manual as this information is very important even for those individuals who will not be driving, but riding in other people’s vehicles.
Child safety seats can be purchased at most large stores (e.g., Kohl’s, Toys”R”Us, Target). Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has a partnership program with Kohl’s for obtaining and installing child seats at discounted rates: 267-426-5000.
In many states and cities, including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, it is illegal to text or talk on a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving.
If you plan to regularly park on campus, contact the Parking Services office for information regarding permits, rates, and locations:
There are currently two car sharing companies in the Philadelphia area. You must have a valid driver’s license to participate in these programs. Philly Car Share and Zip Car each have a fleet of vehicles parked in various locations throughout the city. You can rent these cars on an hourly basis and the rates generally include gas, insurance and use of the car (limited mileage). These are great programs for those individuals who want access to a car but do not need one for daily use:
Additionally, you can rent a car from a traditional car rental company by the day or week. Most of these companies are located at the airport but also have a few limited pickup areas in the city. A few companies that can be located online are: Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, and Budget. You should visit the Drexel University Procurement website to see if there are preferred companies that offer discounts for members of the Drexel community:
There are several “cab” companies in the area. Taxis can be scheduled or you can pick one up in most areas of town where there is a lot of car traffic (non-residential). It is customary to pay the driver 15% of the fair as a “tip.”
A few local companies include:
Old City Taxi
OTHER TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
Local Public Transportation
There are several options for public transportation in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. The name of the public transportation system in Philadelphia is the South-Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority or SEPTA. They operate local buses, subway trains, trolleys, elevated train lines and regional rail transit.
Schedules and maps can be found at:
SEPTA has partnered with Google for trip planning and their Google Maps tool can be used to determine the routes for getting around the immediate Philadelphia area by public transportation:
Other regional public transportation includes:
Train service (outside of regional transportation systems such as SEPTA) is provided by Amtrak. Unfortunately, train tickets tend to be more expensive and service less extensive than in many other countries.
There are several bus services available for travel outside of the Philadelphia region, especially to destinations such as New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Boston, many of which offer tickets for only a few dollars when purchased far in advance:
Bicycles are not as common in the U.S. as they are in many other countries, but there are many of them on campus. When riding in the streets you are expected to obey the same road rules as automobiles. Bicycles should be locked securely when parked and some bicyclists even remove the seat or wheel to prevent theft. Drexel Parking Services operates a free bicycle sharing program:
There are several airports in the Philadelphia region. The closest airport to Drexel is Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Additionally, we are within driving distance of New Jersey and New York international airports: Newark Liberty Airport (EWR), New York Kennedy Airport (JFK), and Atlantic City International Airport (ACY):
This and additional information can be found in the Guidebook for International Faculty and Graduate Students.