Car Free and Carefree in San Diego

Moving to a new city for college comes with the expectation of gaining some freedom and getting to explore a new place.

One of the perks of attending the University of San Diego is an open parking policy that allows all students the opportunity to have a car on campus. While having a car is certainly convenient for those looking to explore San Diego, having a car on campus isn’t as important as you may think. In fact, many believe going without a car has its own perks.

One major benefit of going without a car is the money it saves. Not only will you save money in gas and car maintenance, but you will also avoid having to buy an annual campus-parking pass for $390.

In comparison, public transportation in San Diego is relatively inexpensive.

Discounted trolley passes are available for purchase at the University Center ticket office on campus. The trolley is a great way to get to places like Fashion Valley mall, Seaport Village, and Petco Park.

Senior Pierce Salamack explained that not having a car has helped him become familiar with the city of San Diego.

“[Not having a car at school] gave me a good opportunity to learn how to use the mass transit system in San Diego,” Salamack said. “Getting downtown or to the beach is really easy once you know how to use it.”

It is true that many may find taking public transportation a drag. However, in certain instances, it can actually be helpful, especially if you want to avoid huge parking fees downtown when you want to catch a Padres game. If you don’t want to take public transportation to an event, the school also has Zipcars for rent. The Zipcar program allows students access to vehicles when they need them.

Senior Haley Cwiakala recalled that, while going without a car seemed like a downside at first, it ended up being a helpful way to get to know people.

“Not having a car freshman year was pretty annoying at first, but it was also a great way to meet people in my dorm,” Cwiakala said.

“I did take the trolley some and also ended up getting a Zipcar occasionally,” Cwiakala said. “They’re great for groceries, but you don’t really need a car freshman year. You’ll always find a friend to hop a ride to the beach with.”

In addition to being able to rent Zipcars and catch rides with friends, the university also provides access to the College Cab program which provides safe rides for students at a flat rate of $10. The program aims to give all students a safe option for getting home, no matter the circumstance, and can be used up to three times a semester, ensuring even the car-less can always have a safe and inexpensive option.

The ridesharing app, Uber, is also very popular among USD students and usually low cost. A trip down to Mission Beach or into Mission Valley only cost about $10, and when spilt with friends can be a very affordable way to get around.

For students opposed to renting a car or taking the trolley, there are many options within walking or biking distance. There are several places to eat, including sandwiches, pizza, Greek food, Thai food, Mexican food, sushi, smoothies, frozen yogurt, and a 24-hour donut shop. Additionally, many of these places accept campus cash, since they are so close to school.

The Postmates app is also a hidden gem for those without cars, as it will deliver food or goods from the most popular places in San Diego. Postmates also frequently has free delivery promotions.

Tu Mercado and the USD Torero Store are also great resources for those on campus without a car. Both stores supply groceries, school supplies, and toiletries, so students can always have easy access to the essentials they need.

Senior Christine Keane confirmed that not having a car on campus doesn’t have to detract from your college experience.

“It’s fun to hop into a friend’s car, sometimes not knowing where they are going, just to go on an adventure around San Diego,” Keane said. “You wind up in the most random places with a big group of friends, which makes for a fun, surprise adventure.”

So before jumping to the conclusion that not having a car is a huge inconvenience, explore the resources available for those without a car and all the benefits going car-less actually bring. Getting exercise, making new friends, and saving money are just a few of the hidden perks leaving your car behind can bring.

Written by Dani DeVries, Opinion Editor