Two Brigham Young University professors want to turn the university campus into a car-free zone, where students are welcome but their vehicles are not.
Scott R. Woodward and Cory Teuscher, both associate professors of microbiology, want BYU to be a model of environmental consciousness. In a letter to BYU President Rex Lee, the two professors outline three actions the university should consider."We're both new here, and we're quite appalled at (the air) we're subjected to," Woodward said.
The university already is working on two of the proposals: BYU is converting its coal-fired boilers to natural gas and is participating in a test program to operate fleet vehicles on natural gas.
Three university vehicles are now running on natural gas, and if a few bugs in the program can be worked out - limited tank capacity and fuel availability - the university will convert additional vehicles to natural gas.
That leaves the third and most radical of the professors' proposals: Students go cold turkey as far as their attachment to the automobile when they come to Provo.
"Students could receive an unlimited Utah Transit Authority bus pass at the start of each semester," their letter says. "The increased demand for bus service would ultimately improve the quality of such service in Utah County. This program, in our opinion, would also help cut back on parking requirements and may have a significant impact on the growing problem of enrollment.
"Only those students who are truly interested in a university-based experience may ultimately consider applying to BYU if they are restricted from bringing an automobile to school."
Ultimately, the two hope that faculty and staff also would be prohibited from bringing vehicles on campus.
There are approximately 14,000 student vehicles at BYU, according to Mike Harroun, BYU director of traffic and parking services. About 1,300 belong to single students living in on-campus housing.
The two professors sent similar letters to Utah Valley Community College, the Provo and Alpine School districts, the City/County Health Department and the Utah County Commission.
They also are proposing that students at UVCC and area high schools be prohibited from bringing cars to their schools.
R.J. Snow, vice president for student life, said BYU is not "in a position to make it an automobile-free campus now."
BYU spokesman Paul C. Richards said the idea of banning vehicles on campus is not new. The university's parking committee is reviewing hundreds of ideas on transportation issues submitted by students, faculty, staff and the public.
"These are intended to be mostly long-range solutions to traffic and parking problems at BYU and, in some cases, the community around BYU," Richards said. "It's a good idea, it has merit and is one of many we are considering, but it has to be viewed in the totality of the problem."
The Provo-Orem area falls short of air-quality standards for carbon monoxide, which is primarily emitted by vehicles. The professors say the area's carbon monoxide problems will be exacerbated by installation of Q-BOP furnaces at Geneva Steel.
The furnaces, which will replace the mill's open-hearth furnaces, will reduce fine-particulate pollution but will increase carbon monoxide emissions.
"We strongly feel that (banning cars at campuses) will simultaneously meet the need for increased air quality while at the same time accommodate Geneva Steel's increased output of carbon monoxide," the professors said in a letter to Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins.