With the average price of gas creeping toward the $4 mark, consumers are left with no other choice than to suck it up and pay the rising cost. The shock to the wallet cannot be felt harder than for commuting college students.
“I’m constantly driving to and from Monrovia,” said Kim Grey, an art major who spends about $60 a week on gas. “It’s really painful for a college student’s wallet.”
The AAA fuel gauge report, which is updated daily online, showed the average price for regular unleaded gas in California to be $3.287, almost five cents higher than last month and more than three cents higher than the current national average.
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said the high prices for gas were due to the growing demand and the shifting of gasoline grades on Sunday during “Meet the Press.”
“The oil has gone up because the suppliers are unable to make the kind of demand to make the flows equal to the demand…I expect the latter to settle down over the next month or two, but, clearly, we’re going to have a number of years, two or three years, before suppliers are going to be in a position to meet the demands of those who are consuming this product,” Bodman said.
Even with the rising gas prices, some students will not part with their large trucks and SUVs for a more economical car or change their driving habits.
“I didn’t want to sacrifice my truck,” said Graham Keller, a businesses administration major. “Sometimes I need to carry stuff or someone needs something.”
“It’s not an option to change habits because I have to drive to school,” said Max Probst, a music major who commutes from Glendale, leaving him spending about $60 a week on gas.
Some students have opted to explore other ways of getting to class.
Patrick Mottola, a business marketing major who lives near the University, rides his bicycle to class. He usually takes his car during the weekend where he works as a car salesman.
Lillian Ulloa, a business administration major who often spends at least $40 on gas a week, researched the costs for public transportation when she had car trouble.
“I was figuring out how much it would cost to take the Metro, and it’s more expensive,” Ulloa said.
In her case, the round trip cost in the metro would end up being higher than the amount she usually spends on gas.
Amri Covarrubias, an art major, used to carpool with a friend to and from school. Since her friend has been having car troubles, she has opted to take the bus. She now spends about $15 a week in bus fare. She has been working on saving money for a car, but the rising gas prices are making her less likely to buy a car.
“I think we should all ride bikes,” Covarrubias said. “I know it’s not going to happen, but still.”
Aside from taking public transportation or a bicycle, there are other options that will help commuters from solely relying on gas.
There are other types of vehicles on the market other than the common hybrids that are available.
Vehicles can use electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, propane, P-series and biodiesel.
The problem with these alternative fuels is that for the most part, they are scarcely used.
“I would have hoped that our government would have thought about it,” said Tom Kerrins-Torres, a sophomore.
Kerrins-Torres believes that the government should have placed more of an emphasis on the hydrogen alternative long before the prices rose to these heights.
Mottola would not consider turning in his car for one that is more economical, because it is already economical enough for him.
“I drive a lot on the weekends,” Mottola said. “My Corolla gets 40 miles to the gallon on the highway. Hybrids get like five or six more.”
For some students, the availability and the appearance of the hybrid cars keep them away from making the investment.
“If they make nice ones, I’m up for it,” Ulloa said.
Probst believes that having everyone switch to another type of fuel would not change much.
He thinks that switching to a corn-based fuel, for example, would not lower fuel prices because there would be large costs ranging from the added costs in producing the crop to the costs in providing adequate fueling stations.
For others, the cost of getting another car that is more economical is too high for college students.
“I have no problem sacrificing the cool factor of the appearance,” said Paul Millian, a business administration major. “If I go to get fast food, order a small fries and throw the rest in the car for fuel, no problem.”
Still, Millian will be keeping his 1999 Honda Civic because its gas mileage is good enough for him.
He is planning, however, to invest in equipment that will help his car run more efficiently.
“As soon as I can afford it, I’m looking into getting a hybrid,” said Jesse Soto, a theater arts major.
Soto has noticed changes in his driving behavior as a result of the higher prices.
“I don’t speed as much anymore,” he said.
Soto is not the only one who feels that not speeding will ease gas-spending habits.
“I tend not to accelerate as quickly,” said Ben Mulchin, a history major. “Accelerating too quickly really burns a lot of gas.”
“I might switch to diesel,” he adds. “They are supposed to be pretty fuel efficient.”
Andres Rivera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.