College student’s guide to saving on transportation

With the high rise on gas prices, here are ways you can travel without going broke.


Ryan King, Guest Columnist

So, you’re a full-time college student. That means fewer working hours and less money in your pocket. The average college student works somewhere between 15 and 25 hours a week and most are only making minimum wage or slightly above. In other words, college students aren’t exactly rolling in money. Gas prices are being raised due to many factors, including the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions that has led to a rapid recovery of global demand, and the new policy agenda allowing oil production and drilling to be increasingly more restrained, causing traders to drive up the price of crude oil.

Gas prices in California, according to the American Automobile Association, are averaging around $4.71 per gallon as of Nov. 27. That’s more than a dollar above the national average of $3.39 per gallon— and which comes out to about a quarter of the average college student’s weekly paycheck spent on gas. That makes it hard to consider saving when put into perspective, doesn’t it?

The simple explanation is that the raising of gas prices is because we want to be a cleaner state producing fewer emissions, and by doing so people will eventually buy electric vehicles to save money. The ultimate goal is to phase out all gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035 making us a completely zero-emission state. 

Now we college students are facing a rather expensive issue. On one hand the price of fuel and on the other, we have electric vehicles (EVs). When asked about EVs, some students have said, “I would never buy an electric car,” and, “They’re pretty pricey for what they offer.” It’s true EVs are a great substitute for gas-powered vehicles, however they are simply unaffordable to most students, ranging from $30,000-$40,000 or more.

Now that everything is on the table, what is our solution? Well, there are multiple ways to save money with transportation. You can carpool with a friend or classmate, substitute short drives with other means, or take public transportation.

 By carpooling more often to school or work you can split gas usage in half, helping with emissions as well as cutting down spending. Riding in the car with someone is a great way to socialize, and with the last year or so we’ve spent in isolation, we need it. But remember to be safe and wear your mask.

 The second option is simple. If you have to go down the street to a friend’s house, pick something up from a store, or even go to the gym, walk or ride a bike. Many of our generation find it outlandish to see someone not driving and it’s totally not. It’s great exercise and zero emissions are produced. You may even find yourself enjoying a nice relaxing walk or bike ride after a stressful day.

 A lot of us take for granted and probably forget that public transportation even exists. You can take Tri Delta Transit, BART or even get an Uber. It’s estimated that households can save more than $10,000 a year by taking public transportation. With the convenience of a Clipper Card you can get just about anywhere you need to go through BART, buses and ferries.

 With a 31-day bus card through Tri Delta Transit you only spend about $57 and get a whole month’s worth of bus trips with unlimited rides. Riding BART you can ride from Antioch to San Francisco for less than $5. There’s plenty of stops for BART as well, just look up the BART map and you can map out any trip you need.

The best part of a Clipper Card is the sheer practicality of it. You can hop off your BART and take a bus a couple of blocks to your destination, meanwhile the whole time you’re just sitting back enjoying the ride.