drive less illustration

(Camila Vallejo / Daily Titan)

Earth is heating up because gigantic amounts of greenhouse gases continue to be released into the atmosphere every year. Subsequently, frequent and intense wildfires blaze through the state, with some growing so large that they can be seen from space. 

Of the four main types of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions need to be controlled as they make up 80% of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of that 80%, transportation releases 35% of CO2 emissions from this sector in 2019.

According to the World Resources Institute, California emitted the second most amount of greenhouse gases in 2018, behind Texas, and roughly 49% of that comes from transportation.

Carbon dioxide emissions have to be lowered, and there are many feasible options that Cal State Fullerton and transportation departments can consider to reduce transportation’s carbon footprint.

Riding in public transit, like a bus, can greatly lessen the amount of cars on the road. A bus typically has the capacity for at least 36 people. A sole bus that carries multiple people emits less pollution than 36 people driving their cars separately.  

While public transportation is heavily emphasized as a way to cut transportation costs, they could be unreliable. Ultimately, people choose convenience over conscience. Bus schedules are in limbo due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before then, they would arrive every half-hour when they should be running at 15-minute frequencies. Despite their inconsistent schedules, buses greatly reduce the amount of people driving single vehicles on the road. Eventually, more fuel is conserved and the carbon footprint decreases.

The Orange County Transportation Authority should paint bus lanes on Orange County’s most congested roads like Katella Ave., State College, Harbor and Beach boulevards, so that buses have their own right of way instead of being mixed in and slowed down with traffic.

Even better, for routes with bus lanes, buses should be given signal priority, where a street light stays on green for on-coming buses. 

Like public transportation, cities must develop better bicycle infrastructure, like wider bike lanes with physical barriers to bikers and other cars on the road. This would encourage more people to ride bikes as it would be as safe and convenient as riding a car. 

The benefits of riding public transit or a bike are not only lower carbon footprints, but also cheaper parking prices and gas fees. 

CSUF should give away discounted bus passes instead of overpricing them for a $100 semester pass or a trade-in system for students who bought a $334 parking permit so they could trade it in for a year-long bus pass.

Many people still may not see the value in public transportation or biking. With the rise of Tesla’s automobiles, the perfect solution seems to be pushing for more electric vehicles. However, that is not the case. 

Even though the car does not release CO2 when driving, it still needs to be charged from an electric vehicle charging station, which gets its power from the grid, which is mostly powered by fossil fuels. An emphasis must be put on reducing the mass amounts of cars on the road before switching to mass consumption of electric vehicles. 

Even humanity’s best efforts to improve transportation will not be enough as long as the U.S. is committed to suburban sprawl. Cities should also build dense, mixed-use housing around transit stops. Mixed-use development is where both housing and commercial business share buildings. A nearby example of this concept is University Hall. Restaurants are located within walking or biking distance from the building.

This is a concept known as transit-oriented development, and its purpose is to have everyone’s basic needs in one location or at least have them within reach of a transit service. 

Transit-oriented development allows people that live in these areas to reach their destination in a matter of a walking distance, without spewing their cars’ pollutants into the air. 

USC Village, for example, has housing for 2,500 undergraduate students with a Target and a Trader Joe’s, among other restaurants, within the vicinity for student access and two light rail stops, on Jefferson and Exposition boulevards.

Another effort by Cal State Fullerton to make campus more walkable is their plan to build a pedestrian bridge on Nutwood Avenue stems from several people’s complaints of the lack of safety on that street corner.

Ultimately, it is government officials' responsibility to transform cities into easily accessible eco-friendly infrastructure. 

There are many options for people to reduce their carbon emissions while riding transportation from place to place, but lessening driving would greatly benefit students and the damaged environment.

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