With the September 20 climate strike attracting more than 200 students to Tommy Trojan to join the global climate change awareness movement, it’s clear that environmental security is at the forefront of concerns for students at USC.
It is also in the spirit of President Carol Folt, whose zero waste inauguration took place on the same day. Days earlier, Folt had announced that USC would be relaunching its transit subsidy program after it was discontinued in 2015. The program will give USC staff and faculty a 50% subsidy on transportation passes. in common.
These grants are a step in the right direction towards the goal of campus-wide sustainability presented by the University’s 2028 Sustainability Plan. By encouraging employees to use public transit, USC encourages them to learn more about the environmental impacts of daily single-passenger vehicle travel.
Indeed, the last time the University had an active grant program, it seemed like a popular option for staff and employees on the go. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2015, more than 3,000 USC employees used the discounted transit passes before they were phased out in July. At the time, USC was offering electronic Los Angeles subway passes at a $ 30 discount from their standard price of $ 100. Now, Metro E-passes cost $ 40, and the bigger financial incentive will likely lead to increased use of public transportation.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 4.71 metric tons of carbon dioxide are produced by a vehicle per year. Therefore, if the number of employees returning to the program is equal to or greater than the previous number, the reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions could reach more than 14,000 metric tonnes.
The program has the potential to be successful because of the way it establishes a daily routine of environmental awareness. If employees travel to USC by subway or bus daily, not only will carbon emissions be steadily reduced, but climate change awareness can become an integral part of people’s way of life, which is important if the goal is widespread awareness.
At a time when there is an immediate and critical need for change in sustainability practices, USC has responded with appropriate action. In addition to electronic passes, USC Transportation also offers U passes available for purchase by graduate students. This means that another large population on campus has access to public transportation at reduced prices.
LA Metro offers discounted TAP cards for students (a 30-day pass costs $ 43 instead of the standard $ 100). However, USC does not offer an additional discount or grant for undergraduates like the one for employees and graduate students. Students traveling to USC could benefit as much as employees from subsidized transit passes. While many undergraduates who live off campus live within walking distance, for those who don’t and for those times when students want to get around the greater LA area, taking the subway at a discount is more affordable and sustainable than other means of transportation. And as students become the face of the climate change awareness movement, it makes sense to include them in the transit subsidy.
In addition to saving money for commuters and reducing the school’s carbon footprint, the transit subsidy program will ultimately make a statement on USC’s values. As the government turns a blind eye to the compromised environment and turns a deaf ear to supporters of climate change awareness, it is more important than ever for USC to support its students in the fight against climate change.
By promoting student-hosted events such as the Climate Strike and choosing to subsidize transit passes, USC is sending the message that it takes both the voice of its students and the state of the environment.