Students agree with concerns about long commutes

Photo by, courtesy of Creative Commons

Paola Molini/Staff Writer

Differences in schedules, long distances and lack of time makes it difficult for some University students to get on board with green commuting, which reduces anxiety, stress and even obesity.

Students at FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus acknowledge bike riding, taking the shuttle and carpooling as a physical and psychological way out of stressful traffic and continuous sitting, but class schedules, work and extracurricular activities leave them with no option other than driving to school solo.

Lunique Mazard, a public administration sophomore at FIU, lives close to BBC and walks to campus. Mazard also takes classes at Modesto Maidique Campus, but he doesn’t own a car, so he finds alternative ways to get to MMC since he considers the University’s shuttle to be too expensive.

“I would rather walk there for five bucks,” said Mazard. “Five bucks for a shuttle ride to and from campus is ridiculous.”

This study was published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, by Christine Hoehner and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas. The study provided causal evidence for earlier findings that linked the time spent driving to an increased risk of cardiovascular death. The study examined the effects of a lengthy commute on health over the course of seven years.

It revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol. The researchers also linked long driving commutes to a greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation, all of which can impair the quality and length of life.

Marcell Benevento, a psychology junior at FIU and a friend of Mazard’s, expressed discomfort with the $90.55 parking access fee every student pays in their tuition when some don’t even own vehicles.

“I have friends who don’t have cars but still pay for parking, so why don’t they let them use that fee for the shuttle?” said Benevento.

Lissette O. Hernandez, the director of the Department of Parking and Transportation at the University, says the parking access fee that students pay in their tuition does not only go towards the parking decal.

“This fee helps to cover a lot of other services like Panther Mover, Golden Panther Express and CATS,” Hernandez said. “It helps pay for the garages that are built on campus as well as the maintenance of garages and lots.”

For other FIU students, green commuting is nearly impossible because they live far from campus, where there is little public transportation and carpooling sometimes requires waking up earlier.

“I believe driving takes a toll on everyone, physically and mentally, because of the concentration it requires mixed with the stress caused by traffic and even weather,” said Michael Sharp, senior journalism student at FIU.

“I don’t do carpool because nobody I know from school lives close to me, and even if I did, I still wouldn’t be able to because my schedule is unpredictable.”

Sharp lives in Coconut Creek. Driving to school takes him an hour each way, not to mention the time he spends in his car driving to different locations in Miami to comply with his job and internship.

“A big part of why I’m worn out at the end of the day is because of all the driving I did.”

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