Opinion | How to maneuver through Oakland affordably


TPN File Photo

Healthy Ride bikes on O’Hara Street.

By Nina Santucci, Staff Columnist

One of the most dreadful feelings is waking up and realizing that you’re going to be late to class. You ditch the coffee and throw together an outfit in ten minutes — but, alas, the walk to Cathy is twenty minutes — you’ll never make it. If only you had a fast, efficient way to get to where you want to go. 

Transportation around Oakland is one of the more stressful components of Pitt’s college experience. Whether it’s going to class, going out or just going home, you need wheels. Every form of transportation available comes at an expense — money, stress and time — so let’s determine which is the most affordable, convenient and practical for college students.  

There are many options of transportation for getting around Oakland and the surrounding Pittsburgh area, and depending on if you’re traveling near or far, different rides are necessary — so let’s start broad. 

A car seems like the obvious first choice, right? WRONG. Cars are convenient and always at hand, but having a car in Oakland is a whole other deal. Parking passes, while cheap, are a pain to attain. Sometimes landlords can limit how many parking permits are registered per household — that’s a conversation you do not want to have with your roommates. 

The treacherous traffic, flustering road rules and too many one-way streets to count could make anyone have a panic attack during rush hour. That atrocious traffic will also run your gas tank and wallet dry, which isn’t very sustainable for a student who’s already paying hundreds in rent and utilities. There is a plus side though — driving around for an extra half an hour looking for parking really helps to get used to those one-ways. 

While the idea of a car on campus is nice, realistically, not everyone has, wants or can afford one. The next most common form of transportation is Uber or Lyft — if you don’t have a car, order one for tons of money!

Uber and Lyft are extremely convenient for college students, especially for going out and getting home safe. These services eliminate the need for a designated driver, parking or carpool — a true luxury. But that’s exactly what Uber and Lyft are — luxuries. Uber and Lyft aren’t sustainable when the minimum price for a ride is between $10 and $15, but something about alcohol really takes away the sting of dropping $50 to get home from Southside. Ubers and Lyfts can be unreliable when there aren’t enough drivers or when the estimated pickup time constantly changes.

Cars, Ubers and Lyfts are the least affordable forms of transportation while also prompting a decent amount of stress and hassle. If you’re a Pitt student, you have access to completely free transportation through the Pitt shuttles and Port Authority buses. These modes may not be stress and hassle free since you’ll have to comprehend the shuttle and bus schedules through their apps and manage your time to coordinate with them, but they’re much more reliable, consistent and cheap than other long distance rides.

There are many short distance transportation options such as walking, skateboarding, hoverboarding, unicycling and Spin scootering — arguably one of the cringiest ways to get around if you’re not drunk — but all have their downfalls. I recommend a constantly reliable, available, sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative — a bicycle. 

Biking at a leisurely pace is three times faster than walking, so in a rush, that can easily be doubled, plus it’s great for your health. Yes, bikes can be expensive, but a one-time payment for something that will save time, money and stress in the long run is objectively better than constantly paying for gas, ordering an Uber, waiting for a bus or being caught dead on a Spin scooter.

Getting around Oakland efficiently and affordably can be daunting, especially with so much chaos in the City and so many options to maneuver it. Consider your options realistically to decide the best choice for you. Above all else, be safe however you get around because no amount of convenience or budgeting is worth risking your safety.

Follow Nina on Instagram and Twitter @ninaboebeana or email her at [email protected].