Gonzaga Expands Green Efforts: Complimentary Bus Passes to Students, Faculty & Staff

August 19, 2015
SPOKANE, Wash. – As part of its increasing sustainability efforts and programs to become carbon neutral by mid-century, Gonzaga University will offer complimentary Spokane Transit Authority bus passes to faculty, students and staff. The program starts in mid-September.

“We applaud STA for offering us the opportunity to collaboratively reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jim Simon, Gonzaga’s director of sustainability. “We believe this program will also reduce the number of single-occupancy cars on campus, and decrease congestion in the Logan neighborhood. This effort not only demonstrates Gonzaga’s concern for the environment in a practical, everyday way but shows how relatively small changes can, collectively, add up to major and measureable impacts.”

“We are very pleased to have a growing partnership with Gonzaga University,” said Spokane Transit CEO Susan Meyer. “In addition to reinforcing their own sustainability efforts, making bus passes readily available to Gonzaga students, faculty and staff highlights the importance and availability of strong transit infrastructure throughout Spokane’s University District.”

The program is a response to Gonzaga’s first comprehensive Climate Action Plan (approved in 2013), which targets the goal for Gonzaga to achieve carbon neutrality – net zero emissions – by 2050.

The STA’s Universal Access Transit Pass allows Gonzaga students, faculty and staff to ride STA buses using a complimentary reusable fare card that will be available in mid-September. Passengers simply swipe the card on the bus for every ride they take. For information on riding STA buses, which actively serve the campus along the Hamilton and Division corridors, please visit the Spokane Transit website.

“Transportation is a significant component of our carbon footprint. As individuals and as a community, we can make a significant positive impact in our daily commutes. This program will provide real incentive for people to make changes that will go a long way toward our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint,” Simon said.

Taylor Kratochvil, president of the Gonzaga Student Body Association, also is pleased with the program, which will make it easier for students to engage with the Spokane community and access internships, jobs and volunteer opportunities.

“It is amazing to see a program of this nature in place for our Gonzaga community,” Kratochvil said. “Not only are we all benefiting from the convenience of using the city’s bus system, but we are also staying true to our commitment to the global community by making more ecologically friendly choices.”

Professor Brian Steverson, Gonzaga faculty president and the John L. Aram Chair in Business Ethics, also supports the initiative.

“The University’s commitment to providing these passes for faculty, staff and students supports its efforts at reducing our indirect carbon footprint and is part of building an environmentally sustainable institution and culture, something we are called to pursue as a community,” Steverson said.

Jeff Geldien, president of the Gonzaga Staff Assembly, said he is excited for the program and encourages employees to take advantage of it.

“I know many of our staff members are trying to be more conscious of sustainability – specifically driving and fuel consumption,” Geldien said.

Gonzaga faculty, students or staff interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact Jim Simon, director of sustainability, via email at simonj@gonzaga.edu. Details on the mid-September distribution of passes to the Gonzaga community will be forthcoming through internal GU channels.

Gonzaga’s Commitment to Sustainability

Gonzaga has long been committed to environmental stewardship through a host of sustainability initiatives. The actions complement the call by Pope Francis in his “Laudato Si” encyclical on the environment and human ecology, the Society of Jesus, and the U.S. Catholic Bishops for mission-based sustainability consistent with Gonzaga’s Catholic and Jesuit identity. Gonzaga is expanding its sustainability commitment in the newly completed John J. Hemmingson Center. In March, Gonzaga introduced four new projects financed by the Green Fund, a unique funding model to support student-generated sustainability initiatives. In 2014, Gonzaga became the first U.S. Jesuit university to commit to the “Real Food Challenge,” a pledge that 25 percent of food served on campus will be sourced from ecologically sound, fair and humane, and local- and community-based providers by 2020. In 2013, Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh and Gonzaga Preparatory School President Al Falkner signed the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor, joining the national movement for faithful action on climate change.

For more information, contact Jim Simon at (509) 313-5571 or via email at simonj@gonzaga.edu.