Use public transit to reduce gas dependence

by Caitlin Johnson

Paige Nelson, Photo Editor

I had a epiphany recently as I stood at the gas pump, numbers eat away at my bank account. I realized this trend of rising gas prices isn’t going to disappear. It might make gradual descents sometime in the near future, but how long could it really last? There’s only so much oil we can tap and it’s bound to run out eventually. If we’re going to be forced into independence from oil, now is the time to start. The recent rise in the cost of gas could be what we need to break our gas-guzzling habits.

San Diego is one of the greatest cities to live in when you consider alternative transportation. Extensions have made the trolley more accessible and designated bike paths are abundant around the county. I began riding the trolley to school this semester, and it has already proven cheaper than driving. According to sandiegogasprices.com, on Monday the average price per gallon of gas in San Diego was $4.605. Divide it by your car’s miles per gallon and you get the cost of driving one mile. I did the math and driving my 2003 Honda Civic costs approximately 16 cents a mile. Taking the trolley instead of my car to campus three days a week is saving me at least $20 a month in gas. That’s additional cash I can put toward the holidays or, you know, buying myself the new Wii U.

It’s obvious driving less has its advantages. Finding alternate routes will lessen the impact of pollution from vehicles. The Center for Sustainable Energy notes California is “the ninth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world and a third of this carbon dioxide comes from fossil fuel-burning vehicles.” This comes as no surprise with so many cars on the road (we might have Los Angeles to thank for that). With alternative modes of transportation, we can help improve this issue by contributing less to it.

Minimizing the number of cars on the road will also alleviate traffic. There is nothing worse than a 10-minute commute becoming a 45-minute drive because too many cars needed to take the same on-ramp. It’s a terrible way to spend the afternoon, even with the new Justin Bieber album.

Organizations throughout the county are encouraging the community to drive less by offering incentives to those who choose to kick the car habit. SD Bike Commuter, an extension of Bike San Diego, is “a business discount program for cyclists,” according to its Facebook page. The goal of this program is to get more local businesses such as shops and restaurants to offer discounts to customers on bicycles. There are currently close to 60 businesses offering up to 20 percent discounts just for arriving on your bike. Blind Lady Ale House, Captain Kirk and Empire House are just a few of the businesses on the expanding list.

With so many great options already available, we can have a good time limiting our dependence on unsustainable resources. One of the best parts about using public transportation is the fact that a designated driver has already been assigned. No more wallowing in the corner with a Diet Coke as your friends live up a Friday night. Now you can have as much (responsible) fun as the rest of them.

Pain at the pump is just the first of the problems we will face if we don’t start making changes. The future of transportation is already here—we just need to take advantage of it. Cutting your drive time by just one or two days a week saves resources and money. The fate of our own well-being is in our hands. It’s time to take hold of the sustainable steering wheel and do something about it.