(The following op/ed appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune earlier this month in support of a new program that will provide free transit passes for students using Cap and Trade funds. While the piece has a lot of San Diego particular information, the overall message is a good one for any city. We are reprinting it with the author’s permission. – DN)
With the summer now long gone and San Diego students back in school, some are being armed with a promising tool for fighting the impact of high gas prices and climate change: free transit passes.
A new pilot program, modeled after numerous other successful efforts throughout the state of California, is providing 1,000 area students with free transit passes so that they can get to school, jobs, and other destinations safely, reliably, and with fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Expanding these free and low-cost youth transit pass programs throughout the state is a fast and effective way for California to reduce climate pollution and spur the economy. While few cities have the financial resources to go it alone, the state has a powerful new funding tool to make free and low-cost transit passes a climate change-busting, economy-boosting reality throughout California.
As the centerpiece of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, the state has initiated a cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions from more than 350 of the state’s largest industrial facilities. While most of the emissions permits are provided for free, a small amount are auctioned every year — and between now and 2020, the revenues from these auctions are expected to generate billions of dollars.
By law, cap-and-trade revenues must be invested in projects in our communities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide other benefits such as economic development and public health improvements.
The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40 percent of all carbon emissions — the largest of any sector — so achieving California’s climate goals will require significant investments in expansive, efficient, and affordable public transportation.
For many students and their families, a lack of transportation choices is a barrier to both education and economic opportunities. In the San Diego region, $4-a-gallon gas has become the norm — and the overall cost of car ownership was estimated by the AAA as $8,946 in 2012. Read more…