9-6-19 Sustainable Travel

An LSU Tiger Trails bus waits for students to board at Lockett Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019.

A few weeks ago, I stood outside in the dark at a bus stop, shivering and desperately checking my phone every few minutes, waiting for a bus that felt like it would never show up. It eventually did—almost 45 minutes late. Luckily, I was with a friend, but the delay was still extremely inconvenient.

Tiger Trails isn’t my usual mode of transportation, so this isn’t typically a struggle for me, but for others, it’s a daily obstacle. Baton Rouge is not a walkable city which makes alternate forms of transportation necessary. However, not everyone has cars or other vehicles. Even for people who have access to cars, LSU parking is next to impossible.

The University does not provide enough parking spaces for enrolled students, with both on-campus residents and commuters struggling to find spots. A reliable form of public transport is indispensable for students, as well as for faculty, staff and Baton Rouge residents in general. 

With the current mandatory on-campus housing for freshmen, the University’s parking space shortage has increased drastically. The University has also been removing valuable parking lots to make room for more buildings and dormitories to house the incoming freshmen, a move which has frustrated and angered many upperclassmen who feel like they are no longer a priority. 

Paying more attention to the public transportation issues in the Baton Rouge area would be a wise move for the University’s administration. The University would lose nothing by increasing the regularity and reliability of its Tiger Trails buses. They stand only to gain by soothing ruffled feathers and giving LSU students, faculty and staff a more accessible and environmentally sustainable option for transportation. 

The University has come under fire recently for outsourcing to a company which was caught mixing recycling with trash, so a move toward a more environmentally friendly campus could potentially help alleviate some of this criticism as well as create a better campus environment for students in general.

Other universities in the U.S. don’t have to provide students with extra modes of public transportation because of their smaller campus size, or because they have more efficient citywide transportation systems, such as subways, buses or bike-friendly lanes.

However, LSU is not that lucky. Baton Rouge does not have an effective preexisting public transportation system in place, so the University needs to up its game and figure out how to give students the mobility and accessibility they need.

Marie Plunkett is a 21-year-old classical studies junior from New Orleans, Louisiana.

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