Rising gas prices put financial strain on USC students with cars

Commuting students talk about the inflation of U.S. gas prices, affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A photo of an ARCO gas station, displaying the price of regular gas at 4.79 per gallon.

The recent increase in gas prices in the Los Angeles area is one of the ways that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is impacting USC students.

According to the American Automobile Association, the average cost of a gallon of regular-grade fuel has gone up from $4.67 to $4.90 in the past month. Just a year ago, the average cost was $3.75 in L.A. County.

Parks Peters, a junior majoring in business administration and a commuter, said he avoids using his car as much as possible following the rise in gas prices on top of what he pays in parking fees.

“I pretty much run on a quarter of a tank on my car and that’s kind of the norm,” because LA and USC are so expensive, Peters said. “I feel like the institution doesn’t really do anything to alleviate financial burdens on that front.”

Though gas prices were already rising prior to Russia’s attacks on Ukraine, the invasion is significantly affecting gas prices in the U.S.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major producers of oil and natural gas, and these prices naturally rise during wars. The U.S. does not have large-scale imports from Russia, however, the events happening in Europe do have significant repercussions.

Muhammad Sahimi, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Viterbi, said the market perception that the attacks may disrupt the supply of gasoline and oil plays a key role in the inflated gas prices. This psychological strain will continue as tensions rise between oil-producing countries.

“Russia provides 10% of energy supplies of the world,” Sahimi said. “Since Russia is at war and the West has imposed sanctions on Russia, that affects the psychology of the oil market.”

Public transportation is a good way to optimize gas mileage for students, according to Sahimi. Students can also move closer to campus, share rides, or use fuel-efficient cars to reduce gasoline consumption, he said.

Eduard Ghazaryan, a freshman studying political science, commutes about 30 minutes to an hour from Burbank for classes. The drive requires him to fill his tank for $70 every week on top of parking fees at USC.

“Everyone is expressing their dissatisfaction with the gas prices,” Ghazaryan said. “It’s a common problem with all communities, especially in California, where gas prices are so high.”