Physics senior Katarina Brekalo steps outside the door of her apartment to the bus stop where she is picked up 15 minutes before the hour. She hops onto what is usually an empty bus. She then takes this 3B bus route for just under ten minutes to Cal Poly’s campus and arrives with five minutes to spare before class starts.
This is one of the several ways Brekalo works to reduce her own carbon footprint.
Brekalo’s actions align with the recent Commute with Confidence campaign put on by the Cal Poly Corporation and Transportation and Parking Services. The campaign encourages students, staff and faculty to engage eco-friendly transportation methods like bus rides, rideshare and riding bikes to the university.
The Commute with Confidence campaign won a gold award from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals — which is one of the most well-respected creative competitions in the world according to Cal Poly Corporation spokesperson Aaron Lambert.
“It’s really more about the work being done on campus to help enhance the student experience, than it is about the awards,” Lambert said in an email to Mustang News.
Amy Voorhies, Cal Poly’s director of public safety business services, said the department has seen tangible changes implemented by this campaign. For example, 147 student carpool groups formed for fall quarter and 200 community members are riding the San Luis Obispo County bus for free.
Breckalo said the Commute with Confidence campaign holds a valuable objective. However, her own decision to commute via transit was a recommendation from one of her roommates.
Physics junior Andrew Perez said he has not heard of this campaign either.
Perez chooses to bike or bus to campus daily for cost efficiency purposes.
“It can only be effective if everybody knows about it,” Perez said.
Lambert projects parking permit costs will increase for students in 2022 and 2023. Part of this is to help manage parking behavior and encourage sustainable alternatives.
“If we want to reach our campus climate goals, we need to encourage options to help the campus community make cleaner choices,” Lambert said.
Despite the increased financial burden this may put on low income students who may live further out from campus for cost purposes, Voorhies said they will continue to have access to the county busing system and SLO Transit for free, as well as the opportunity to purchase carpool parking permits.
The Transportation and Parking budget relies 100% on revenue from paid parking and citations.
Breckalo said she agrees with the sustainable sentiment and hopes that students in return will choose more transportation methods to campus that require less-to-no carbon emissions.
Despite the efforts of Transportation and Parking, the Cal Poly Corporation — which helps with marketing for Transportation and Parking Services — has continued to invest in fossil fuel companies.
Upon learning that the Cal Poly Corporation will continue to invest 1% of its overall investment portfolio, or $1.24 million, into fossil fuel companies, Breckalo and Perez said they were disappointed the university isn’t following their own recommendations.
“It all comes back to, money will drive action,” Breckalo said “It’s kind of sad.”
On Oct. 6 the California State University (CSU) Chancellor Joseph Castro announced that the university system will no longer invest in fossil fuel companies. Cal Poly will not be divesting at this time.
Looking into the future of Cal Poly, both Breckalo and Perez maintain optimistic beliefs about overall efforts by the university and its community.
“I feel like we’re already making the big shift towards renewables and it’s already getting a lot more viable than it was beforehand,” Perez said. “I feel just like the world as a whole is shifting towards renewables and I’d hope Cal Poly would be the leader.”