Cal State Fullerton has about 40,000 enrolled students, the second largest student enrollment in the CSU system, and a majority of these students are commuters. Thousands of cars are coming in and out of campus every day creating an influx of air pollution, and the freeway running alongside the campus also adds to the problem.
However, the university hasn’t been successful in promoting sustainable options for students who are environmentally conscious or interested in carpooling to campus. The university needs to make a greater effort to provide better carpool options for students who could ultimately help the environment and alleviate parking congestion.
With the programs they do offer, there seems to be no appeal or substantial benefit for students or the environment.
Parking and Transportation Services offers a carpool system for students who live close to one another or who commute along the same route. A minimum of two students are required to qualify for the pass with at least one applicant owning a valid parking pass.
Not only are there a limited number of spots available for students who carpool, but they only have a four-hour window to get a parking spot. Only 39 Student Carpool Zone spaces are offered and the hours are restricted from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays. After that window closes, the spots open up to all students.
Because the number of carpool spaces is significantly low, it is not going to make a significant difference in the air pollution created by cars. While this dilemma for students who carpool may not seem critical right now, considering the parking shortage, if those numbers increase so will the competition for those spots, which may create even more parking problems.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, for every gallon of gas a car uses, 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases are emitted. So assuming that all 39 carpool spots get used, at minimum only 78 students out of the 40,000 are helping to reduce their output of global warming gases. While any help, however small, can be beneficial, the number of students who carpool could possibly be greater if the campus offered more spots with fewer time restrictions.
Neighboring campuses like Cal State Long Beach promote their Climate Action Plan for sustainable travel habits and plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
They use a carpool network service called Zimride where students can offer or request rides for commutes, trips or other events. Its website offers a private network for CSULB students, staff or faculty to post their rides or requests.
CSUF does offer a variety of environmentally-sustainable options for commuters. Those include biking, riding the bus, carshare, Metrolink, train, vanpools and carpools. While these are all great options, it isn’t advertised to the students on campus as much as it needs to be.
These options can be found on the Parking and Transportation website, but a student would already need to be looking for alternative ways of transportation to come across all these services.
This type of advertisement isn’t going to make the carpool program become visible enough to the people who can utilize it.
Students need to hold their school accountable for making changes to help solve big issues that affect them, and that can only be done by speaking out and asking for those changes. A better carpool program will not only help the environment but it may reduce some of the parking challenges students face every day.