Funding was approved for the Regional Planning Commission to proceed with a study of policies that could reduce transportation emissions on campus. See attached funding request for details.
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Reduce Cars (Vehicle Miles Traveled) on Campus (In Progress)
The 2015 iCAP, chapter 4, objective 4, is "Reduce the percentage of staff trips made using single-occupancy vehicles from 65% to 55% by FY20, 50% by FY25, and 45% by FY30." In order to have a sizable impact on transportation emissions, campus will need a multi-faceted program that encourages and educates the entire University community on active transportation options. Successful transportation demand management programs incorporate incentives for commuters to switch from Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs) to active transportation modes. A reduction of SOVs driven on campus, which translates into fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT), is one metric for success in reducing transportation emissions. There are a number of opportunities the campus might undertake to affect this change.
To reduce commuting emissions, campus could strengthen the comprehensive mode-shift behavior change campaign. This campaign was initiated on campus in FY08, when the Transportation Demand Management department was established. Through coordination with the cities of Urbana and Champaign, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD), and local advocacy group Champaign County Bikes (CCB), there has been a noticeable shift in mode choice for the campus community. The survey results in FY11 showed the impact of this collaborative and concerted effort toward a reduction in single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) mode-share for staff, shifting from 74% in the 2007 survey to 65%. Because this data point is the metric tied most directly to the resulting commuting emissions, the objective for mode shift is based upon this metric, with a target of 55% SOV mode-share for staff by FY20, 50% by FY25, and 45% by FY30. The strategies needed to accomplish this shift encompass multiple transportation modes and behavior shift programs.
Encourage Car-free Commuting
Our current parking permit structure, in which employees pay a fixed amount per year for the privilege of parking in a particular lot, offers little incentive for staff to use other commuting options once they have already paid for a parking permit. Campus could provide additional opportunities for employees and students to purchase less-than-full-time parking privileges at a reduced cost. This would enable commuters to take advantage of healthy commuting options, public transportation, and ridesharing when time, weather, and other circumstances permit, while maintaining the option to drive alone
when needed. The financial model for such changes needs to be carefully explored, as the Parking Department is required to be entirely self-supporting. It might be necessary to raise parking rates; doing so would also provide an incentive for employees to explore options other than driving to campus. Raising rates may be challenging given the collective-bargaining requirements, but it has been successfully done on other campuses, including Illinois-Chicago. Without incurring any additional costs, campus could also provide incentives for commuters using low emission vehicles, including designated parking spaces close to entrances and preferential consideration for parking spaces in lots with waiting lists. The financial and operational impacts of these suggestions and others are being explored through the 2015 Parking Master Plan process.
Emergency Ride Home programs address a common concern for commuters transitioning away from reliance on a personal vehicle, i.e., the ability to get home quickly in case of an emergency. The program would provide a free ride by taxi, in case of emergency, with the flexibility to stop at a hospital or day care provider, if needed. The campus could work with MTD to implement a Emergency Ride Home program for employees living within the MTD borders who do not purchase an annual parking permit.
Another available program to reduce reliance on SOVs is Zipcar. This car-sharing program was initiated in FY09 by the campus, the City of Urbana, the City of Champaign, and the MTD, through a car-sharing RFP process. It has been very successful so far, and campus could encourage its expansion.
Encourage Ride Sharing and Transit for Faculty and Staff
Promote the public transportation is the most effective way to decrease the SOV rate. Campus has worked with MTD since 1989 to establish excellent transit service on campus. Since 1999, all University iCard holders have enjoyed free access to the communitywide MTD service. The transit mode-share for faculty and staff, however, is currently only 10 percent. This could be increased through a clear communication program focused on campus employees, explaining the benefits of riding with MTD and encouraging employees to use the transit service. The campus could implement this communication program in collaboration with MTD. Except for bus service, bike is also a environmental-friendly and popular transportation method, our university is a bike-friendly university where lots of measurement has been taken to promote the bicycle, including bicycle parking lots, bicycle paths, second-hand bicycle purchasing and development bike sharing programs. All the actions are effectively increase the bicycle rate and decrease the emission produced by car.
Also, campus could adjust policies related to employee work hours, to allow for an increase in transit utilization.
The carpooling mode-share for staff is currently only 13%. Campus could increase ride sharing by implementing van pooling for commuters living in nearby towns, with low-emission vehicles. Ride sharing could also be increased by providing incentives and support for employees who takeadvantage of this option.