By Sydney Pettey, USM Eco-Rep
You’re taking that 20-minute drive from Gorham to Portland to take a final exam. You are going through every piece of information you crammed into your head the night before and then it happens. That glowing, orange light goes on and your car stops. It can only mean one thing. You’re about to open your wallet. According to supermoney.com, the average car repair cost is $397.87, with prices ranging from $16.88 to $1,1190.18 per repair. In addition to repairs, there are monthly, annual and mileage-based expenses. These include oil changes and tire rotations every 5,000 miles, gas, insurance, inspection stickers, and registration.
It is common knowledge that automobiles release exhaust that contains carbon dioxide (CO2). As stated by Transport Geography, transportation contributes 25% to the total CO2 emissions, with automobiles contributing 10%. According to NASA, the greenhouse effect is important for warming Earth, but adding more greenhouse gases, like CO2, allows builds up this cloud, allowing less radiation back out to space, causing more warming on Earth.
In 2007, USM signed a pledge titled American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), to be carbon neutral by 2040 by decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions to zero. According to the Campus Sustainability Strategic Plan, USM hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from transportation alone by 2025. The use of alternative modes of transportation are key to reduce emissions from vehicles. USM’s Office of Sustainability led a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) study with private consulting firm VHB, which resulted in various initiatives to encourage and support alternative modes of transportation to achieve the 20% reduction in emissions from transportation. There are alternative modes of transportation other than a single-occupancy vehicle, including walking, biking, carpooling, and public transit.
A primary alternative mode of transportation offered at USM is public transit. USM partnered with Greater Portland Metro to create the Husky Line which travels between the Portland and Gorham campuses every 30 minutes. In addition to the Husky Line, Metro has 9 other routes throughout the Greater Portland Area that anyone with a USM card can ride for free. All you have to do is show the driver your card. By taking the Husky Line for that 19.8 mile round-trip between Portland and Gorham one day a week for one semester (14 weeks) in a 24.7 miles/gallon automobile (the average mpg) with gas costing $2.50 per gallon, you would save approximately $28 in gas for the semester, as calculated on calculator.net. It would be challenging to change your transportation habits overnight and no one expects you to, but taking little steps to alter your habits can benefit yourself, the community, and the planet.