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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Opinion

Expanding public transit will help combat climate change


Expanding public transit will help combat climate change

Juana Garcia/ The Cougar

Although electric cars are becoming a hot topic in terms of environmentalism, public transit is the better choice for the environment. 

Electric vehicles have been around as long as cars have, but they’ve only been seriously considered as replacements for gas-reliant cars in the past 10 to 20 years.

With companies like Tesla making great strides in technology, people now see electric vehicles as a valid choice when choosing their next ride. Electric cars are often marketed as being environmentally friendly since there is no gasoline use to contribute to air pollution and carbon dioxide production.

While electric cars may be a better alternative to gas-reliant cars, they still aren’t the best option for making transportation environmentally friendly. The better option would be to expand public transportation.

Public transit allows a bunch of people in one vehicle at the same time, so with fewer gasoline cars on the road, this decreases CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint of each passenger. Public transportation in the U.S. saves over 11 million gallons of gasoline per day.

Think of how gas use would decrease if people could take public transit. If you could take a bullet train to the nearest city or had a rail line to your rural town as they do in Japan, the U.S. could massively decrease the carbon emissions.

The U.S. unfortunately does not have good public transportation. In fact, 45 percent of Americans don’t have access to public transport.

Places like Japan have a majority of their citizens taking public transport, so it’s definitely possible. The U.S. just needs to put more funding into public transport to make it more accessible to people. People in the suburbs or rural areas should still have public transportation options. 

“As Houston continues to grow, investing in public transportation is vital, especially for youth, low-income individuals and historically marginalized communities,” said political science junior Alex Kerry. “Public transportation also supports green initiatives which challenge the current climate crisis.”

Electric cars may still seem like a great choice, but a lot of electric grids use fossil fuels for power. Electric cars also release more emissions in the production process than a normal automobile, so driving one is not as green as one may think.

One could argue it’s the same situation for rail and buses, but since one bus or train car could replace multiple cars, it still is better in terms of carbon emissions. Plus, more people using public transport has been proven to lessen road congestion better than just building more lanes on highways. Electric cars wouldn’t have that effect on congestion because they’re still cars. Public transit is 10 times safer than driving a car as well.

There are loads of benefits to public transport, a big one of them being that it helps combat climate change more effectively than electric cars. Instead of saving up to buy an electric car, maybe try to take the bus every now and then to see how you like public transport. Public transport is the better option for those who want to combat climate change.

Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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