The five colleges operate both as independent entities as well as mutually dependent institutions. The Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory was founded in 1969 by the Five College Astronomy Department. Together, the Five Colleges operate WFCR (Five College Radio), an NPR member station operating at 88.5 MHz in the FM band. They also participate in an interlibrary loan program, allowing students, staff, and faculty to take advantage of all five campuses' collections.
In addition, students at each of these schools often take classes at the other colleges ("cross-registration" is permitted and often encouraged). Student groups and organizations often draw participants from all five campuses and several academic programs (for example, astronomy, dance, some foreign languages, and women's studies) are run by the Five Colleges.
A popular urban legend among Five College students holds that the characters on the Saturday morning cartoonScooby-Doo represent the five colleges. The legend has Daphne representing Mount Holyoke College and Velma as Smith College, with Fred representing Amherst College, Shaggy as Hampshire College, and Scooby as UMass Amherst. Hanna-Barbera Productions, CBS executive Fred Silverman, and some of the show's writers have said that this story is false, and that the show was actually based on the radio program I Love a Mystery and the TV sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Regardless, the fact that Hampshire College was founded a year after Scooby Doo's debut calls this folklore's veracity into question.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) provides free inter- and intra-campus bus service to students. The bus line runs among the Five Colleges on frequent schedule seven days a week, allowing car-free travel to class and social events. Hourly buses run into the early morning on weekends, an alternative to driving after drinking. This service is funded through a contract with the member institutions. Schedules can be found at www.umass.edu/transit.
Limited Amtrak service is offered at the Amherst station (AMM). It is contiguous to the Amherst College campus and a PVTA bus stop. Service is North/South, although many more connections are available one stop away at the Springfield station (SPG). Service to Boston, Montreal, New York City, Albany, and distant points are available by connecting to regional service at Springfield.
Northampton Airport (FAA: 7B2) and Turners Falls Airport (FAA: OB5) are the closest dedicated general aviation airports. They offer 24 hour access for private aircraft, including corporate jets. 7B2 and 0B5 can only accommodate very small corporate jets.
Major domestic scheduled airline service is available at both Bradley International Airport (FAA: BDL) in northern Connecticut (45 minutes) and Logan International Airport (FAA: BOS) in Boston (90 minutes). Logan offers extensive international flights. Regularly scheduled shuttles are available for a fee.