SALT LAKE CITY, UT (ABC4) — Students at Utah Valley University pledge to ride public transportation at a press conference on Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. at the Orem Central Station, located at 1350 West 900 South.

The students plan to address Utah’s poor air quality and climate change with the “Give the Gift of Clean Air” pledge. The student-led press conference will feature Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and UVU leadership, and Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer. There will also be a fog machine simulation to help attendees visualize the impact of Utah’s inversions on local air quality.

“I have a lot of respiratory issues. I have severe asthma that I was diagnosed with when I was 16, and the inversions are my least favorite time of the year,” said Caitlyn Bennett, UVU student and one of the co-creators of the Give the Gift of Clean Air campaign.

Bennett goes to the ER three to four times a week with “breathing treatment after breathing treatment,” and it’s the air quality that has a direct impact on Bennett’s health.

“[The inversion] is such a big issue, and we always think, ‘oh, man, I wish it would go away,’ but since we’ve been able to do this campaign, we have actually been able to do something about it,” Bennett said.

Much of Utah’s inversion comes from cars and trucks, with it being 50% of all pollution during the winter season.

For those who want to make the change, but don’t know how to start, Kiersten Thomson, UVU student and one of the other co-creators of the Give the Gift of Clean Air campaign, suggested starting with the UVX in the Provo/Orem area, which is free for UVU students, as well as current faculty and staff.

Thomson said that in most of the research they found, many people agreed that air quality was problem, and it was better to ride public transit, but “taking that first step is hard.”

UVU students can use UTA for free, but so can many other universities, colleges, and some companies, but many students and employees aren’t aware of it or their access.

“That’s part of our campaign with this pledge is getting people to know what their options are with UTA and take advantage of that,” Thomson said.

For those where financially riding UTA isn’t an issue, but it’s the time, Thomson said it’s all about time management. Having that extra time on public transit can be to your advantage, especially if you need to work.

One such UVU student, Jordyn Bristol, loves the extra time UTA gives her. She used UTA so often that her fellow UVU students nominated her as an example of regularly using UTA.

“Being a student and having access to ride for free has been super beneficial in terms of saving money on gas and making an easier commute. With WIFI on the train too, I am able to get one hour of uninterrupted homework to stay on top of my studies,” Bristol said in UTA’s “December Rider of the Month” article.

Be it time, money, or something else, there will always be obstacles, Bennett said, “but it’s better to utilize that time that you’re on public transportation to get things done.” Because if we can lower the emissions in Utah, we can “make the situation better not only for me, but also for others who have health issues.”