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Saturday, February 27, 2021

OPINION: Altering Plans for Alternative Transportation

Western is all about the alternative, and that includes transportation. However, is that transportation worth it when college students who already have thin wallets need to pay $69 if they want to rent a Zipcar?

Zipcars are like communal rental cars. Once you join, you have access to the available cars any time you need them. Members receive Zipcards, which act as keys to lock and unlock the cars.

Western currently has two cars in lot 11G, one in lot 32G and two temporarily in the lot at the campus services building.

When the cost of attending Western is already more than $18,000, $69 a day is a big deal. That money could buy a lot of pumpkin spice lattes, or something more practical like textbooks, school supplies and actual food. Car sharing is an extremely cool concept, one that hopefully becomes more prevalent in the future. However, for students on fixed incomes, it doesn’t seem the most practical.

Bellingham is a small city, downtown is minutes away on foot. The desire to explore the farthest reaches of Bellingham and Whatcom County, like anything, it takes money and time.

It’s sad the high cost of education forces students to think like this sometimes, but it is what it is. Many college students are learning how to manage money for the first time in their lives, and it can be hard enough resisting other luxuries.

In the long run, Zipcar could definitely be an improvement to buying a car. But until the time comes when it’s mainstream enough to have a significant fleet of vehicles, and perhaps some lower rates, students looking for a quick trip might find their wallets thanking them by simply taking the bus.

There is definitely an appeal to having a car available when you need it, though. Bus schedules can be inconvenient and the rides are quickly made long by the multitude of stops on any given route.

The price of a bus pass is already included in tuition, so why not make use of it? Do some homework on the way to your stop or use the time to relax and decompress.

You could even get to Seattle for only $5.50 if you need to go the the airport or want to take a day trip.

Or maybe work out a deal with some friends, you catch a ride with them and every once in a while treat them to some Menchies — still costs money, but unless you’re having too much fun with the toppings, it shouldn’t get close to $69.

Or there’s the option to invest in a bike. There are perfectly decent ones at Walmart for $150, and after that one payment, there isn’t much to worry about in terms of upkeep. Plus, Bellingham is one of the most bike-friendly cities around.

There are so many modes of alternative transportation available for students without their own cars. In the end, it’s up to each one to decide what’s the best fit for them.

But whatever choice students end up making, it should be one that’s well-informed and fits within their financial lifestyles.

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