Every week, entrepreneurship management senior Brittney Carlson leaves the keys to her car on the kitchen table, instead choosing to pump up the tires on her bike and pedal her way to classes on campus.
“I try to carpool when I can; I had a truck and I sold it and got a smaller car.” Carlson said.
In July of 2003, gas prices reached a national average of $1.28 per gallon. Fast forward 10 years and gas prices for the same month have doubled to $3.60 forcing Boise State commuter students like Carlson to make some changes in their day-to-day transportation habits.
“I actually moved down closer to campus so that I could cut down on how much I drive,” Carlson said.
Carlson still uses her car, but she wants to save money and only use a gas engine when a bike won’t get her where she needs to go.
“Mostly, I just drive to work,” Carlson said. “It’s still pretty stressful on the wallet.”
Unless automobile companies begin a serious transition toward cheaper, renewable energy sources, Carlson doesn’t see herself spending a large amount of money on a vehicle anytime soon.
“I am looking at other fuel uses,” Carlson said. “Electric cars I think are the future.”
America’s transportation scheme, driven by President Eisenhower’s freeway system and cheap, plentiful fuel, offered carefree road trips to previous generations. But for students like Carlson who can barely afford to drive to the grocery store, exploring the continent on four wheels is an extravagance rarely experienced.
“If you look at the Tesla all electric car, that would be something that would be very beneficial except it only goes 260 miles on one charge,” Carlson said. “So it’s not something you could go road tripping with; charging stations aren’t that common around the country.”
For a Boise State student, gas prices aren’t the only expense to worry about. Though Idaho is ranked fourth in the nation for cheapest average insurance costs at $547 in 2010 according to the Insurance Information Institute website. Throw in a parking pass for either Brady or Lincoln Garage which runs at $320 a year and driving to class can add up.
Caleb Sherfick is a sophomore biology major who lives in east Boise and is forced to drive an hour each day back and forth to campus. Sherfick said the high cost of fuel has made him avoid the commute if at all necessary.
“Going from paying for my gas in high school, and it was like $50 a month, now it’s like $100 a month, I just gotta make ends meet,” Sherfick said.
Sherfick’s limited income has compelled him to limit personal expenses in order to pay for his long commute.
“I just budget,” Sherfick said. “There’s just not as much going out to eat and free time stuff.”
The way Americans perceive traveling has changed and Sherfick thinks this is related to steadily climbing gas prices.
“You would usually have family that would go on a road trip if they couldn’t fly, but now road trips are more expensive,” Sherfick said.