Opinions

Help your friends and the environment

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Was it only last week that pundits wondered how the kids were going to get to school now that a transit strike has cowtown it its icy communist grip? Now, one week later, we've seen the answer: students will drive their cars, of course--even moreso than before, that is. A highly unscientific poll revealed that lineups at Lot 10 and 12 were very, very long Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, which led us to the above conclusion.
With the notable exception of those connected to the Fraser Institute, everyone knows all those extra cars on the road and all those extra emissions aren't good for the environment--or good for your bank balance. It is with this in mind that we humbly submit for your consideration the concept of "carpooling."

"Carpooling" is an idea whose popularity in Calgary ranks right up there with
"diversity" and "tolerance." However, many cities embrace carpooling as a necessity, offering tax rebates to those who commute, building carpool lanes (such as the one Calgary finally built on Centre St.) or charging tolls per vehicle (like in Toronto). Cities promote carpooling for a number of reasons: it saves wear and tear on the roads, it eases congestion, it saves people money and it's better for the environment.

How much money could you save by carpooling? Instead of paying $1.75 for one person to park in Lot 10, you can pay $1.00 for a carpool (minimum three people per car) ticket. Ask about them about the Campus Ticket Centre. Split between four people, parking becomes $0.25 per day instead of $1.75. If you drove virtually every day, you'd save over $200 each semester just by carpooling. Two hundred dollars buys a lot of frosty beer or, for some students, a semester's worth of textbooks.

What about the environmental benefits? Every car that stays in the garage or parked on the street doesn't pollute that day. Cars are the greatest contributor to climate change, the biggest reason why there's a brown haze sitting on the Calgary skyline every morning like a dollop of marmite. Most of you probably don't know Calgary has the worst air quality in Canada according to the most recent Statistics Canada figures (www.statcan.ca). Now you do.

What are the drawbacks to carpooling? Hmm... you lose the status associated with driving one's own vehicle all by one's self. In most cases a big drawback is the inconvenience of coming to university an hour early or staying a couple of hours later. To that we reply, boo hoo. That extra hour you come in early could be taken up studying, working on assignments, socializing with friends or even working out. That extra hour you have to wait for your ride at the end of the day could be spent doing any of the aforementioned activities or volunteering for volunteer services, Dinos Athletics, CJSW, NUTV, the Students' Union or even the Gauntlet. Worse things could happen than your carpool forcing you to--gasp!--actually spend time contributing to the university community.

This transit strike doesn't have to be inconvenient; it presents you with a perfect opportunity to try the best alternative to transit. So try carpooling during the strike, or better yet, continue carpooling once this strike is over.

For more information on carpooling in Calgary, visit calgarycommuter.com or www.carpool.ca.

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