Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Try public transportation instead

Stella Falkin

When exploring the city of Austin, people often assume that they need a car. However, because of expensive parking garage rates, many students cannot bring their vehicles to campus and resort to using rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft. Since these options are sometimes seen as the only alternatives for off-campus travel, students put up with the high costs and environmentally detrimental consequences associated with rideshare companies.

To combat this situation, UT uses student tuition to provide free access to Capital Metro, Austin’s public transportation system. Students should take advantage of this opportunity to save costs and practice environmental sustainability. 

Public health freshman Osmar Flores frequently uses CapMetro to traverse the city. Flores relies on public transportation as a cost-effective way to participate in off-campus activities with friends while saving money. 

“As a college student, I really need to save my money and be very careful with it,” Flores said. “And since your UT ID guarantees you free rides using the Metro bus, why not use it to get around?” 

“If you’re one to complain about spending so much, or you’re emphasizing that you need to start saving up, why not use public transportation?” Flores said.

The financial benefits of public transportation are clear, and college students on a tight budget should consider this alternative. CapMetro also presents upsides in time management, safety, mental health and physical wellbeing, according to Chandra Bhat, the Joe J. King Endowed Chair Professor in Engineering. 

Dr. Bhat also emphasized that the most important benefit of public transportation is its prioritization of environmental sustainability.

“When you look at public transportation, in terms of the carbon monoxide coming out from these combustion engines, you have much less of that on a passenger-mile basis when people are traveling together,” Bhat said. “Greenhouse gas emissions (are) substantially reduced if we are all able to travel together in a single vehicle as opposed to multiple vehicles. There’s no question on that.”

While public transportation has made gains over rideshare apps in multiple areas, negative perceptions of CapMetro still discourage some from accessing the resource. However, by reframing their perspective on public transportation, UT students can live more eco-friendly and comfortably. 

Blanca Gamez, Director of Parking and Transportation Services at UT, said that all you need is a little bit of research and practice. With preparation, the services CapMetro provides become yours and a greener footprint is left. 

“The best thing to do is grab a friend and ride a bus,” Gamez said. “Even if it’s just the 40 acres (route) that takes you around the university. That’s the first step to getting comfortable with riding a shuttle.” 

While rideshare apps are convenient, their costs and environmental repercussions are extremely concerning. To practice sustainability for themselves and the planet, students should embrace the public transportation system for their travels and simultaneously leave the Earth as a better place than they found it.

Anwar is a neuroscience freshman from Plano, Texas.

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