Transportation War: The Car

In this city, all forms of transportation are not made equal. Our writers discuss the ups and downs of three popular forms of transit.

Ah, the triumphs of the modern car: air conditioning, radio broadcasted music, reclining chairs, cup holders and the ability to accelerate from zero to 80 mph in less than 15 seconds. While that’s all well and good, it’s time to have a “come to Jesus” meeting about the practicality of driving in Philadelphia in 2008.

I don’t have to tell you that to afford gas these days, you’re going to have to get used to that rumbling in your tummy. And then, there are Philadelphian drivers. “What’s a turn signal?” It’s like everyone ditched driving etiquette class. Lastly, driving a car isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly. According to Alpha Online, a division of Environmed Research Inc., the United States is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide. U.S. emissions have increased to 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2004, 16 percent higher than emissions in the late ‘90s. Makes you feel like riding a bike, right?

Driving has its upsides, though. If you’re sick of campus food, the nearest grocery store is a 10-minute car ride away, and a car’s a great thing to have if you want to stray from the city at large. Let’s say you’re at a friend of a friend of a friend’s house party, and you have an 8:40 a.m. class. Suddenly, that rusty old jalopy becomes your best friend.

Plus, there’s a happy medium available between driving and being environmentally-conscious. Philadelphia has a wonderful program called PhillyCarShare. You pay a fixed rate and you never have to worry about gas. Sweet, right? And guess what? There are two on campus: at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and by the Regional Rail station.

Be sure to read Rachel Nichols’ pledge for her bicycle, and Lauren Macaluso’s pledge for SEPTA.

Aaron Stella can be reached at


  1. I grew up in New York City and until I left there to go away to college, all of my transportation within the city was public. The few times my father tried to drive us places within the city, my memory is of long stops due to traffic. So it IS possible to live in a big city and not use a car. Some folks are unable to ride a bike (achy-jointed me at over half a century old, a mom with triplet 6 month olds, etc). So use the public transportation. If necessary, on occasion, take a cab. But fewer cars make the roads more hospitable and plain old safer for pedestrians and for bicyclists. Plus, the city just sounds nicer with fewer internal combustion engines revving and it smells so much better without the constant exhaust fumes. Bicycle for better health. And wear those helmets!

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