Climate change hurts our earth and polarization divides our community — take your local bus to help both
In the age of semi-post-pandemic and climate change, it is important to build community and sustainability effort locally in Fort Collins. One cheap (actually, free) and easy way is to take the bus.
One time, a CSU student promoted his workplace, a pizza chain in Loveland. A lady asked whether they are hiring because she got laid off since the pandemic started. That conversation turns into a communal talk because the lady’s late father was a friendly bartender at a community bar in Loveland.
Another time, A teenage girl carried a cake from King Soopers. “Happy birthday” was written on the cake. Her phone rang, and her eyes lit up as she answered it.
They were all brought together because of one shared experience: they traveled on the bus.
Public transportation never gets enough awareness, let alone recognition of their effort to boost sustainability. Although riding the bus does not stop carbon emission, sharing a ride with the community helps combat climate change.
According to the American Public Transportation Association, Public Transportation in America is lowering carbon emissions by 73% and reducing gasoline consumption — up to 4.16 billion gallons of gas saved each year by using public transportation.
Locally, Fort Collins’s carbon emissions have been declining since 2005 but found a peak in 2018. Its carbon emissions in 2019 were 13 million tons of carbon dioxide. Nationwide, the majority of greenhouse gasses come from electricity, industrial work, and transportation.
“Our big emissions portfolio comes from electricity, natural gas, transportation, and waste and minimally from water,” Lindsay Ex, the Environmental Services Director of the city of Fort Collins, said.
She further elaborated the focus on creating a renewable energy source from a solar panel and monitoring the energy efficiency in buildings. Fort Collins created Our Climate Future, and one of their biggest goals was to reduce “2030 greenhouse gas emission by 80% below the 2005 baseline levels.”
“Transportation side, the transit systems reduce emissions, and our biking infrastructure reduces emissions,” Ex said. Transfort, however, still faced accessibility issues for Fort Collins residents.
“The majority of Fort Collins we have low-density developments to single-family homes that can’t support transit, and other folks are going to need to rely on bikes or other ways if they’re not going to choose their car,” Ex said, “When folks are working three jobs, using our bike infrastructure for their daily needs is not realistic.”
Besides the routes and accessibility, the biggest two barriers in public transportation are funding and land use.“We don’t have land-use patterns that can actually support transit systems that we can’t provide transit to everywhere,” Ex said, “we’re looking at alternative solutions, like micro-mobility and other options for folks.”
Besides the obstacle on the city planning level, some Fort Collins residents are unaware of the buses, or have trouble planning the time. “I come from Idaho and in Idaho, there’s no public transportation,” Casey Bridges (29), Fort Collins resident, said, “here, I forgot [the bus] existed, so I didn’t plan it to my schedule.”
Most of the Transfort Routes are on 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and one-hour intervals, varied through each route. The time interval delays could also be prevented by more efficient planning with Transfort’s real-time arrival and departure feature, and Google Maps public transportation planning feature that has transit schedules.
“Everyone feels like they wish they could have more time in their life. And one of the things that the bus offers for you is downtime that you don’t get when you’re driving yourself. You also don’t have to find a parking spot…You don’t have to spend your limited money on gas when you can spend it more on pizza or other enjoyable things for you, while also benefiting our environment.” — Lindsay Ex, Environmental Services Director of the city of Fort Collins
Our public transportation is not perfect, but it is one small way all residents can do to boost sustainability. One person not driving their car opens up a space for parking, reduces carbon emission, and uses less gasoline.
“If the city alone takes action, we’ll never achieve our goals,” Ex said, “we need community leadership from all businesses and all residents.”
Besides the sustainability aspect, riding the bus brought us closer as a community. There’s beauty in riding public transportation. You see other people. You get a glimpse of their life; you might hear something that tickles or saddens you.
One time, I was waiting at a bus stop when someone struck up a conversation with me about how life as a college student who has two jobs was hard to face. There’s truly a learning opportunity everywhere, even in that 20 minutes when we are trying to get to places.
“Our individual choices matter,” Ex said, “it’s individual choices and systemic change that we all need to focus on.”
Just hop on the bus, see where it takes you. See the beauty of taking the bus mindfully, and how our earth thanks you for it. It brings you closer to your earth, your community, and ultimately, yourself.