Students Adapt to Gas Prices

According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, a gallon of gasoline averages $1.69 throughout the entire nation, while in Orange County, residents have seen it elevate to $2.37 per gallon. As gas prices continue to rise, the prospect for a drop in prices is looking bleak, and students are finding different ways to deal with the problem.
George Lopez, manager of an Exxon Mobil gasoline station in Irvine, carries the same sentiment towards the elevating prices as any driver would. He said he has no power over the price that is set on gasoline and can only speculate as to why the prices have gone up.
‘I don’t know the reasons why the prices are so high because [the distributors] don’t really tell us anything,’ Lopez said. ‘Nobody likes expensive gas. I don’t even like it myself.’
There is a general sense of resignation among students because they feel like they have almost no control over the situation at hand.
Jean Nguyen, a first-year humanities/undeclared major, commutes to campus four to five times a day from Costa Mesa and is trying to adapt to the rising gas prices.
‘I make one trip, if I have to go to the store. I’ll make one trip from home instead of going home and back out again, and stuff like that,’ Nguyen said.
The prices have only caused minor alterations to Nguyen’s daily routine, yet for others who commute at greater distances to get to UCI, like Angela Torres Amador, a second-year English major who commutes from Buena Park, the prices are having a real impact on their lives.
‘Last week I paid for gas and it cost me $30 for my Honda Accord. It usually costs me $18 for a full tank,’ Amador said. ‘I actually had to take out money from my savings, which I haven’t touched in a really long time. That’s how horrible gas prices are.’
As an alternative, some students find public transportation appealing, although some feel it has its downsides as well. Andrew Su, a second-year biological sciences major, explained that taking the bus isn’t necessarily more convenient than driving a car.
‘The buses don’t come along too often,’ Su said. ‘For the buses I take to come to school, it takes from half and hour to an hour of waiting time.’
For some, taking the bus is not an option. Many continue to pay for the rising gas prices for the convenience automobiles provide, even though UCI has teamed up with the Orange County Transportation Authority to create the U-Pass program that gives UCI students, staff and faculty free boarding on any OCTA bus.
‘I don’t like paying so much but you have to do it. That’s why a lot of people are still buying gas, because you’d rather have a car than get on the bus,’ Nguyen explained.
Another cost-effective and
environmentally friendly alternative to driving for other students is walking or biking. Kevin Eng, a fourth-year biological sciences major, bikes from Stanford Court and feels that the recent price increases have only had a minimal affect on him.
‘[My driving habits haven’t] really changed much because I don’t really drive that much in the first place,’ Eng said. ‘But overall I try to drive less.’
Despite the efforts of some drivers to conserve their consumption of gasoline, Lopez said customers still frequent his station with regularity.
‘Regardless of whether or not the prices are high people need gas so that hasn’t really changed,’ Lopez said.
As for an end to the high gas prices, Lopez is optimistic. ‘I know prices will go down but I don’t know when.’
Despite different methods that students have used to adjust to the financial burden, some believe that there is only so much that they can do regarding this situation. Most drivers find themselves reverting back to their same level of gas consumption in times prior to the price spike.
‘I still drive the same, there’s nothing much I can do about it,’ said Keith Taka, a third-year economics major.