Stop being selfish! Use public transportation.

Mary Coleman

Having taken the bus since kindergarten, I am a passionate supporter of public transportation. Whether it was blasting music, catching up with my closest friends or finishing my homework on the bus ride home. I have experienced some of my fondest memories of elementary and middle school during the 20 minutes it took the bus to make the voyage to school. 

However, since I entered high school, I have felt rather alone in this experience. Yes, some rowdy freshmen are always moshing in line for the Tiburon bus, but I noticed that the interest completely dropped off during sophomore year. As sophomore year hits, students get their driver’s licenses, battle for parking spots and drive to school in their personal vehicles for convenience. 

As I arrive at school in the morning, I watch as leaders of environmental clubs and classes walk out of their personal vehicles wearing “Save The Earth” shirts. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration states, “National level data show significant greenhouse gas emission savings by use of public transportation, which offers a low emissions alternative to driving.” Therefore, the best thing that Redwood’s so-called environmentalists can do for the environment is to put aside their convenience and take public transportation. 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, emissions released from transportation make for a whopping 27 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., making it the most significant contributor to carbon in the atmosphere. Of that 27 percent, 85 percent of these emissions are exclusively released from personal vehicles. Therefore, even though buses and other forms of public transportation often release greenhouse gasses, the overall impact is significantly less than private vehicles.

Public transportation not only benefits the environment, our future and our children’s futures, it also provides aid to the economic difficulties seen today. The cost of gas in Marin County ranges from around $4.20-5 per gallon. This, to say the least, is not the cheapest option, especially for high school students. In contrast, students can buy a $325 youth pass from Marin Transit, providing bus fare for an entire year. Furthermore, low-income students can apply for this same pass for free, making Marin Transit’s public transportation easily the most accessible option for youth. Overall, even if students do not have it in them to make such a significant shift in their transportation to save the environment, the financial benefits alone are enough of a reason to make the change.

Some may argue that it is not worth it to take public transportation due to all of the potential issues in the system. For example, you miss your first period if your bus breaks down. If the bus is 30 minutes late, you don’t get home until 4:30 p.m and don’t get the chance to start your homework until 5:00 p.m. These are potential public transportation costs. However, in the long run, it is far more beneficial for every student to use public transportation, regardless of the consequences. Furthermore, if more students use public transportation, Marin Transit will have more funding allowing them to improve their services. 

It is difficult for environmental supporters to justify driving to school when they know that every car ride they take contributes to the destruction of our planet. Rather, all students must make an effort to sacrifice their convenience to benefit our future, the future of our children and the future of our planet.