Universities lead the way on public transport

March 20, 2014

A recent study by the US PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group reveals that the steps universities are taking to encourage students and staff to use eco-friendly modes of transport are paying off: fewer students are bringing cars with them to campus.

University of Missouri Kansas City

In 2011, UMKC’s students faced constant parking supply problems on the downtown campus — until the university and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority implemented a U-Pass initiative. Under the initiative, students can ride on local buses for free by simply swiping their student ID. The advent of U-Pass resulted in a 8.9 percent increase in ridership since 2012.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

While 30% of students drove alone to campus in 1997, only 18% did so in 2011. Over the same time period, the proportion of students using public transport more than doubled. The university partnered with the bus operator in Chapel Hill in 2002 to make local buses fare-free. The university contributes 38% of the bus operator’s funding under its contract with Chapel Hill Transit.

Chapel Hill Transit Bus

A Chapel Hill Transit bus. Image by Selena NBH

University of Wisconsin-Madison

22% of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison bike to class in good weather, which is an 8% increase from 2006. Madison B-cycle bike sharing has a discount for university students and employees, which is sponsored by UW Transportation Services.

Also, there is a University Bicycle Resource Center in the middle of the campus, with free use of tools and expert guidance on maintaining bicycles. While student access to car parking is limited, bike racks are free and widely available on campus. Free bicycle valet parking on football game days is another innovation at the university.

University of Colorado-Boulder

In 2012, about three in five trips made by university students were on bicycle or foot. This was almost a 9% increase since 1990. Infrastructural improvements like underpasses and bike racks were instrumental in this shift.

In 2011, the university contributed $1.6 million to construct an underpass on a busy town thoroughfare on the boundary of the main campus. About one in three of the city’s underpasses are within the university campus, so bicyclists and pedestrians need not halt on jammed roads.

 University of California-Davis

Although the university has a robust bike culture– about 40% of students and employees bicycle to work– it also focuses on car pooling. goCarpool, a part of its goClub program, incentivizes ridesharing.

Discounted parking permits, reserved parking for carpoolers, etc are some of the draws. Carpooling is a popular option for those who need a ride out of the city. About one in ten undergraduate students at the university living out of the city, shared a ride on a typical weekday in 2012.

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Category: Bicycles, Trends

About the Author ()

A graduate in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, India, Nupur also has an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University. Nupur is currently trying to be as savvy a cook as she is with a book. She likes watching plays and sunsets. Nupur first lived in Kolkata and then for a decade in Delhi, still her favorite city.

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