More than one Southwestern College student has coasted down Otay Lakes Road to Bonita Road hoping to hit all green lights in a wishful but slightly pathetic attempt to save a little gas. With prices breaching the $4 mark in most places around Chula Vista, who can blame them?
Gas prices are too high.
Not that students do not know this already. Between cell phone bills, tuition, books and food — for those lucky enough to have money leftover for such extravagances — students are literally running on empty. Sometimes trying to make it from paycheck to paycheck can seem like doing the 100-meter dash in a war zone.
But the rollercoaster is only as scary as people make it out to be.
While buying gas in $5 increments to tide the tank over till the next payday is a little ridiculous, there is definitely merit in shopping for the best gas prices. High-quality gas from Chevron or Arco runs on the expensive side, but they are more advantageously placed around the city and are less out-of-the-way than smaller chains. Optima on Orange Avenue and Third Avenue boasts the unbeatable rate of $3.79 per gallon, but facing facts, the gas vaporized trying to reach those smaller gas stations on the “outer rim” almost makes up for any savings on price.
One-stop shops also tend to sell gas of lesser quality, so students are left with an ultimatum: spend money they do not have on good gas or risk having the fuel tank drop out of the back of the car from indigestion.
Some students try to skirt the gas issue all together by not driving. There are other ways to get to school? What a novel concept!
Due to insurance, repairs and, obviously, gas, driving a car is about the most expensive form of transportation these days – unless someone on campus uses a helicopter.
Filling up about once a week, putting roughly $30 in the camel’s hump, SWC students will spend $120 a month on gas. And that is a low figure.
Feeding a horse for a month costs between $40-$70. Considering this, it would seem less expensive to ride a horse to school than to drive a car. This really puts new value in the word “Mustang.”
For those students who think riding a pony to an 8 a.m. class is going overboard, there are still plausible options available.
Many students take the “green” path and walk to school. Even more ride bikes.
Chico State University, which is mostly a commuter campus like SWC, provides locker racks for skateboards outside of classrooms. Perhaps SWC should reconsider its ban on skateboards and install racks to open up transportation options for students.
But, with the exception of a few passionate athletes, no one likes showing up to class hot and sweaty from a long walk or ride. Most students do not live close enough to campus to walk.
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System to the rescue!
Bus passes are only $57 a semester. Like a safari ride of the community, buses will drive through parts of Chula Vista, Eastlake and National City that most students probably did not know existed.
Granted, buses can be a little sketchy. Whether it is sitting next to the “hair-sniffer,” the man who has really rank B.O. and is proud of it, the guy who keeps an open can of grape soda in his inner coat pocket or the woman whose purse could easily hide a human being, and probably is, everyone has had their nightmare bus experience.
Carpooling is also a viable substitute to driving. Students should grab a few friends with similar class schedules or a few students from class that they would like to be friends with, and work out a route. Aside from the inevitable bonding that comes from driving in a car with someone for an extended period of time, everyone will save some dough. Students can post requests for carpooling buddies on campus bulletin boards.
There are options. Students have a choice.
Instead of being beaten by gas prices, students should take this opportunity to Go Green, get to know the community and make a few friends.
If nothing else, this is an awesome excuse to buy a pony.
Sometimes life provokes people into coasting down big hills trying to make all the green lights just to keep their heads above the empty line on the gas tank. But if students put their hands in the air and scream the whole way down, it turns into a pretty nice ride.