Los Angeles is a city built for cars.
There are freeways designed to move Angelinos as quickly as possible but the volume of cars in use turns the flow of traffic into a crawl. Pierce students deal with a similar frustration at the onset of a new semester as the college’s parking lots become packed with cars weaving through aisles like sharks searching and competing for a scarce and coveted spot.
Dealing with finding a parking spot is just one obstacle that comes with owning a car. The convenience of being able to drive oneself around comes at a great environmental and financial cost and leaves many to wonder if ownership of a vehicle is really worth all the trouble.
The Environmental Protection Agency states that driving a car is the single most ‘daily polluting activity’ that the average person engages in. Of all the carbon monoxide released into the air over half comes from the vehicles, according to the EPA’s website.
More than just the smog contributing emissions from cars, trucks, and SUV’s are the toxic fluids that have the potential of leaking and contaminating water supplies and create the need to be disposed of in a specific way.
A more direct impact on the owner of a vehicle of course is the personal financial cost.
On top of the cost of the actual vehicle itself, a report by AAA estimates the average cost of owning a car to be $9,122 a year with an average of 15,000 miles driven in a year. The cost was calculated by looking at five main factors. Maintenance, fuel, tires, insurance, and depreciation together make up the categories contributing to the overall estimate.
Maintenance is the most costly factor, which only increases as the vehicle gets older. Insurance comes in second with $1,029 being the average amount spent per year. But this estimate is made using a low-risk driver with a clean record as the basis. Insurance costs are greater for younger less experienced drivers, which make up a large portion of the demographic of college students.
One doesn’t need to be an expert on the subject to know the woes that come with constant stops to the gas pump.
So if not a car what other options are available to students? Bikes are a fine option and the extra time it takes to travel by bike can often be offset with time spent behind a row of cars at a stoplight or trying to find parking.
If a student commutes to school, Pierce is fortunate to be located in such close proximity to the orange line which acts as a major connection to the city’s public transportation network.
Getting a monthly pass for the metro can allow for the pass holder to take advantage of the bus and train system when they normally might only travel for what a handful of quarters can get them each month.
At some point the convenience of owning a car may not be enough to combat the burdens that come with it and each must weigh his or her particular circumstance. But, in a city developed to push the sale of personal vehicles, one must wonder if it’s really necessary for them.