McNeel Jantzen, an assistant professor of Psychology here at WWU, and her husband have carpooled together to work for nine years! They made the commitment to be a one car family, often walking or riding the bus to get around, and enjoy the benefits of using sustainable transportation. Now, their choice to use sustainable transportation seems second nature. “We’ve never really thought about it because we’ve always carpooled.”
They made the decision to own only one car for a variety of reasons. McNeel says, “Part of it is financial- it’s nice not to have the extra car payments”. They also noticed that there was always one car sitting at home, because they always drive together or walk. She says, “It was just a waste.” McNeel enjoys walking as an alternative to driving because of the health benefits. “It’s good for you to get out and walk,” she says. “I like being outside to see things. It allows you to interact with people more. It does seem like a waste of resources to get in your car and drive a distance that’s easily walkable.” McNeel and her husband also enjoy sharing the benefits of the bus with their son. She describes how easy it is to take the bus as a family, and says that it is cheap, and fun, too! They get on a ‘go line’ to head somewhere in town, enjoy their destination and get right back on the bus to head home.
One of the things McNeel also enjoys most about her carpool trips with her husband is the opportunity to listen to NPR and talk about the stories and events that they hear. She recommends if you’re just getting started with sustainable transportation, to find someone you’d like to interact with more. “If you carpool or ride the bus together, you’ll have more time to catch up.” Another tip that McNeel shares is: find a route that you enjoy (perhaps downtown or along the water). “You’ll get to see things you wouldn’t when you’re driving in your car. We do that a lot and enjoy it along the way.”
McNeel logs her Smart Trips at www.whatcomsmarttrips.org because she likes having the chance to win prizes as a Smart Trips commuter. She also enjoys feeling appreciated for making the choice to carpool, bus or walk. The opportunity to log her trips is encouraging and helps her to continue making these choices, rather than feeling like she’s the only one commuting this way. McNeel also values being part of a community where “people appreciate these kinds of choices and work with you, rather than against you”. Since moving to Bellingham, McNeel and her family have become more aware of environmental concerns and she says, “We are doing just a little bit, but our son is seeing this and he has a whole lifetime to make these choices.”
Contact The Sustainable Transportation Office to learn more about your commuting options. Also, log your smart trips at www.whatcomsmarttrips.org to become eligible for cash prizes, discounts and other rewards.