How many ways can you get to campus? You could walk, bike, use the bus or drive. Three out of four of these options are ecologically friendly, but most Americans prefer driving, the mode that is the most detrimental to our environment. Driving on campus, as many people know, is a daunting task only to be undertaken when absolutely necessary. In Austin, just owning a car can be a hassle. Having to pay everywhere you park, constantly watching for pedestrians and paying for exorbitantly priced gas all make driving a car in the city an uninviting option. Why is it then that we insist on continuing to befoul our environment with pollutants when it is unpleasant for us to do so in the first place?
Unfortunately, public transit choices in Austin are poor. We do, thankfully, have the Cap Metro system, but there are many places around town that the system does not reach. This lack of efficient transportation can be frustrating, especially when you need to get from point A to point B quickly. This inefficient system of public transit is likely one of the major factors that keeps people driving their cars regularly. Recently, though, car sharing programs have become immensely popular.
Having the ability to jump into a car whenever you need to is a luxury that many of us enjoy. But who wants to pay $750 a year to leave their car in a campus garage? This fee is increased when you consider gas, downtown parking and car insurance. Spending this much money for the occasional trip home or to the grocery store seems ludicrous. Thankfully, entrepreneurs have capitalized on this issue and brought “Zipcars” to campus, which not only substantially cuts the costs and hassles of driving on campus but are also easy to use. Students can reserve cars just by taking out a smart phone and clicking “reserve” on the company’s website. The ease of using this system and its benevolence to your bank account make the car-share service a viable option.
Of course, car-sharing can be plagued by a lack of availability, which in a pinch would not be a good scenario, but then you could revert to a mode of transportation that was used before Zipcar was even on campus. If worst comes to worst, there is another car sharing option known as car2go. The program is not as economical, but it is convenient because cars can be parked anywhere around Austin. Plus you get to drive a smart car!
Living in Austin, we are bombarded with people imploring us to be ecologically friendly. Sharing one car with hundreds of other people is a good way to begin to minimize your carbon footprint. For every car that is shared, 15 to 20 of personally owned vehicles are taken off the road. This saves millions of gallons of oil as well as reduces carbon emissions drastically. When using a car-share program, these effects are magnified because people tend to drive less when they don’t own their own cars. Without your own car, you begin to realize how unnecessary cars are when living in Austin. After taking this first step toward a greener lifestyle, it is easier to become attuned to our environment’s ecological needs. Without a car, you can save a lot of money that can be used to buy environmentally sustainable products or locally grown food, all of which invest in the longevity of our planet. This mentality is that of the true Austinite. Living, eating and breathing green are very important to the capital city, and since UT is a respected institution here, we should all get on board and respect the environment we live in.