When you came to school today, you probably went through your daily routine without any qualms. You packed up your stuff for school and ate your breakfast. Since it’s cold outside, you turned on your car for about 20 minutes before leaving. Just as you were heading off, you waved to your neighbor, who was also getting into his car to drive to school alone. Seems to be a pretty simple and effective morning routine, right?
Well, your simple and effective morning routine is more sinister than you might be aware. The 20 minutes that you left your car running before driving were 20 minutes of over 40 hazardous air pollutants’ release into the atmosphere. For every gallon of gas you burn, you produce 17 pounds of carbon dioxide and contribute to climate change. Only two minutes of idling uses as much fuel as travelling one mile. Furthermore, Massachusetts General Law (MGL) prohibits idling for more than five minutes, slamming offenders with a $100 penalty for a first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.
Luckily, there’s a simple way you can salvage your conscience and reduce your impact. You might remember it from middle school. It’s called riding the bus.
Riding the school bus reduces the harm done to the environment by the daily commute by consolidating up to 72 students that would otherwise ride in individual cars into one school bus. The corresponding reduction of emissions and idling is irrefutable. Wellesley offers a busing service for students of all grades, with both an early and late bus available to middle and high school students departing from school at 2:40pm and 3:35pm.
Still, high school students don’t ride the bus. According to Transportation Deane McGoldrick, the number of bus passes sold to high school families has remained at about 300 for the last 13 years. In a school with 1,480 students, it is deeply concerning that only 20% of students use this form of sustainable transportation. Furthermore, McGoldrick states that only about 50% of those with bus passes actually ride the bus on a regular basis.
The numbers do the talking. The systems are already in place for students to take advantage of, granting them the opportunity to be sustainable in their day to day transportation practices. All that remains is their will to do so.
(Matthew Hornung ’16, Media Director)