Save the planet: ride a bus

Environment, Featured — By on August 17, 2011 4:10 pm

Unless you’re of the same mind as Rick Perry, you’re probably concerned about global climate change induced by human behavior — namely, the incessant belching of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And while many people try to do little things to reduce our collective role in this worsening problem, many ask a reasonable question: how much difference can I make? What’s the significance of the actions of one person, or even a neighborhood or city, in making meaningful progress towards reducing emissions? The answer may surprise you.

Reading an old letter written in the midst of the heated debate over the Southwest Transitway Light Rail route choice brought back this fascinating bit of trivia, based on data and analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Census Bureau, and Metro Transit:

If 10 percent of those who drive alone to work from Uptown every day switched to a zero-emission mode, that choice would reduce CO2 emissions in the area by 1.5 million pounds per year. This is more than the entire country of Afghanistan produces in a year. Making the switch from driving alone to riding a bus still saves almost a million pounds of CO2–not to mention other gases and pollutants–from being emitted into the air we breathe.

In a part of the city where only one-fifth of commuters choose transit and a majority drive alone to work, our choices are much more significant than one might think. Go get a bus pass. Gaia will appreciate it.

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3 Comments

  1. schw0887 says:

    Hopefully the implementation of Central Corridor in 2014, the Southwest LRT thereafter and eventually the Minneapolis Streetcar plan will drive up the proportion of commuters choosing transit instead of driving alone. While these transit improvements will drastically change bus routes, frequency and scheduling, it will definitely lead to a higher ratio of people in uptown choosing transit for trips other than work.

    Magers and Quinn for life!!!

  2. free transit says:

    Make the buses fare-free. People will start to actually live in town.

    • Anders says:

      While we won’t see fare-free transit anytime soon around here, there’s a good post at Citiwire discussing the financial benefits to transit agencies acting as a developer around stations: http://citiwire.net/post/2871/
      There’s a much more limited potential for such activity in the MSP region at least in the short term, but this could be a conversation worth having. What role should the Met Council play in owning or developing real estate in station areas, and how could this function help fund transit expansion or operations?

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