By LaTara Holloway
I bought my first car my sophomore of college after being pushed into it by my family. I’d spent the last few months begging for rides and catching the bus to school and work, and they decided that all that had to stop. I didn’t want to end up with a lease I wasn’t sure I could pay, neither did I look especially hard for the car. What I got was a faded 1993 Maroon Honda Accord whose. I didn’t really care to drive in a car that was just one year younger than me, but it did get me where I needed to go before being laid to rest a few months ago. For the last few months I’ve had to figure out how to get around Oceanside without a car.
We do have a car now- but it’s a stick shift. Since I’m still learning how to drive without destroying the clutch, it’s best that I’m not behind the wheel until I can master shifting. Thankfully, there are many options to getting around in Oceanside and to the neighboring cities.
Getting essentials on my own is easy since we live right behind a pedestrian-friendly intersection filled with grocery stores and restaurants. However, getting to doctor appointments or just hanging out on the beach aren’t as easy to get to on legs.
I hated taking the bus back in Montgomery. Getting to AUM from home took only fifteen minutes by car, but via bus, I needed to wake up at least an hour early to get ready, wait for the first bus, wait at the bus station, transfer, then take the hour long ride to AUM. That hour-ride was dependent on the bus not breaking down or running late. The buses here in Oceanside run in shorter intervals than back at home, so I’m not as worried about missing a ride (which I hardly do thanks to a handy bus app). But riding buses is almost as frustrating. They get crowded a lot quicker, and the bus drivers don’t have as much personality or patience as the ones back at home. Since buses have a set route they take, you can never go straight to where you need to be.
The cabs here are easy to access, but they’re too expensive to take on a regular basis. I don’t think I’ve taken a ride that was under $20. Lyft is a driver service similar to Uber where a ride is just a few phone taps away. All I had to do was download an app, plug in my destination, and was matched with a driver within a minute. It’s an easy way although it’s more expensive than a bus ride, it feels more personal to me than riding in a cab, mainly because the drivers depend on me to give them good ratings through the app once the ride is over-so winning over customers with a good personality means bigger rewards for the driver. Talking with the drivers here is my favorite part; I end up having good conversations with them and even learning a little bit about the city-where to eat, what to see, etc. And the fact that Lyft constantly runs promotions throughout the year for cheaper fares is also a plus—my cheapest ride was about $6.
But even with this, the cheapest and easiest way to get around has been by train. I’ve only had to take the train to San Diego once, but it was a good experience. It took a little over an hour to get there, thanks to a short delay, but it was the most hassle free experiences to have. No weirdos, no rude drivers and lots of room to stretch out in. There are two companies you can ride with for train rides on the West cCast, with the cheapest one offering fairs for as little as $5.50.
Despite the many options to get around, the constant need to depend on someone else to take you places is draining. I almost feel the same way I felt sophomore year shuffling through the city anyway I can. And with that –and a look at my bank statement- I know for sure that I really need to learn how to drive a stick. Soon.
LaTara Holloway is an AUM student and long-time contributor to the AUMnibus. She is completing her degree in Communication and Theatre from Oceanside, California, where she now lives with her husband and son.