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Empty parking lots now, clean air tomorrow

The lack of students and staff commuting to Long Beach State and adjusted transportation options help contribute to reducing greenhouse gases produced on campus.

For more than a year, a majority of students, faculty and staff have been learning and working from home, with only a small percentage visiting campus regularly. As a result, transportation services such as the campus shuttles and major bus routes are currently not in service.

With parking lots generally empty, permit purchases have gone down. According to CSULB’s Parking and Transportation Services, parking permit sales from this fiscal year are down 92% compared to the previous year.

With fewer vehicles on campus, carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases produced on campus have significantly reduced. However, the Long Beach area’s air quality has remained similar to that of years prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Passenger cars contribute relatively little to the overall pollution in our region and continue to improve,” said Bradley Whitaker, senior public information specialist for the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “Other mobile sources such as heavy-duty trucks and other diesel-powered industrial equipment have far greater air pollution emissions in comparison. Emissions from these sources have not declined substantially during the pandemic.”

Although the short-term reduction of vehicles and the gases they produce haven’t made an immediate impact on the air quality, transportation services such as Long Beach Transit have reduced the use of diesel buses entirely and focus on more sustainable transportation. Currently, Long Beach Transit aims to have a fleet of zero-emission vehicles within the next 15 years.

“One thing that the pandemic has led us to be able to do is we are running the electrics more, which is great,” said Mike Gold, executive director and vice president of customer relations and communications for LBT. “We actually were expanding the use of the electric buses pre-COVID, so we got a good sense of their range. Now, we put them out on more routes and longer ranges now that we have a better idea of what they can do.”

CSULB has an initiative to provide more sustainable transportation by 2040. This includes the campus shuttle service that currently runs on compressed natural gas-producing significantly fewer emissions than diesel or fueled vehicles.

This initiative has garnered support from students, including second-year film and electronic arts major Kevin Chen.

“I definitely think pushing for more sustainable eco-friendly transportation options is very beneficial,” Chen said. “Especially when looking at the pros and cons of sustainable energy over gas and diesel, it’s obvious.”

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