You are here

Reduce Transportation Emissions (In Progress)

Project History


Transportation emissions account for about 10 percent of the total emissions generated on campus. Generally, this includes commuter, air travel and fleet emissions, some of which are difficult to quantify. The target for this section is to reduce transportation emissions by 50 percent by 2025. This aggressive target will require strategic thinking in all components of transportation-based emissions.

The University will implement the campus bicycling master plan. A bike-sharing program will be created by 2012. By 2015, the University will impose a Greenhouse Gas fee on all automobiles registered or parked on campus. The fee structure will be based on the relative efficiencies of the car make and model. The University will use this revenue to provide incentives to reduce transportation emissions. The University will also enact a system for purchasing local emissions offsets from air travel impacts, with a voluntary program beginning by 2012 and will recommend to the Board of Trustees to move to mandate a required program by 2016.


There are already a number of alternative transportation modes available to students, faculty, and staff. A combination of student fees and University funding allows all students and permanent employees free access to the Champaign- Urbana MTD buses. In 2009, the University also contracted with Zipcar to provide fuel-efficient vehicles for short trips in and around campus. To date, there are more than 500 members signed up and currently using the Zipcar alternative. In addition, street traffic has been rerouted and bike lanes are being redesigned and added to help create a safer and more attractive environment for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. But 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 alternative 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, is one metric for success in reducing transportation emissions. There are a number of opportunities the campus might undertake to affect this change. Options for vanpooling and carpooling along with incentives for their use should be implemented. A "Guaranteed Ride Home" in cases of emergency would help to alleviate the concerns of campus citizens with children and families that utilize these alternative commuting choices. A revision of the parking permit system that allowed employees to purchase short-term, monthly, or parking permits that offer a specified number of days of parking per academic year have been proven to reduce driving to and from work on other campuses. Incentives like a specified number of free parking passes per year for the times when people must have their cars (for those who do not purchase parking permits), has also proven effective at other institutions.

The campus needs policies that not only incentivize staff and faculty away from driving, but that work to discourage students from having a vehicle on campus as well. These policies should be presented with education about the numerous transportation options available to students on campus, i.e. MTD, Zipcar, bikesharing, etc. The current parking fee structure does not encourage keeping cars at home. Parking fees were recently reduced for most non-academic staff. The purchase of a semester- or year-long parking pass does not encourage alternative modes of transportation to and from campus as users feel they have to use parking every day in order to get the most from the purchase of a parking pass. Pay-perday or seasonal parking would encourage leaving the car at home. Campus could require student parking permits to be only located on the outskirts of campus, and their vehicles could be prohibited from parking at meters within the University district during weekdays. This would require unique identification of student vehicles to make them recognizable to the parking enforcement officers. Commuters who drive fuel-efficient vehicles could be offered preferred parking, although there are concerns that incentivizing parking spaces sends a message that parking is rewarded.

Flexible scheduling and/or telecommuting are options that could also be explored. The University recognizes that there are supervisors who are uncomfortable with the idea of telecommuting. It would be important to work with Human Resources to roll out a program that provides training sessions for supervisors on how to effectively manage performance and productivity. It would also be best to have
standard, objective criteria in place for supervisors to evaluate whether a telecommuting arrangement is a good fit for each position and each employee.

Transportation Demand Management has drafted a Campus Bike Master Plan that should be approved and implemented. This is in the process of evaluation by the CATS bike plan subcommittee. There is severe lack of funding in this area on campus. The Student Sustainability Committee has partially funded a Campus Bike Project initiative that will provide a place, tools, and supplies for minor repairs of bicycles on campus, and has been providing some bicycle parking funding as well. Research is also being conducted on the feasibility of implementing a bikesharing program on campus. A substantial increase in convenient and safe bicycle parking on campus would also encourage more biking, as would convenient locker and shower facilities at places of study and work.

To affect a reduction in fleet emissions, the campus should commit to purchasing only vehicles that are in the top fuel-efficient categories. Bio-diesel options should be enhanced. Electric vehicles should also be considered as campus moves toward renewable electricity generation. Charging stations for many vehicles would then be a more realistic venture. Strategies should also be developed to reduce fuel emissions due to campus-owned aircraft at the Institute of Aviation. A cap for business miles could be imposed. Air travel should have a cap, be charged carbon fees, and/or require locally purchased offsets. Business travelers could be rewarded for taking bus or rail rather than air. Support should be given to high-speed rail projects proposed for travel through Champaign-Urbana.

A system for purchasing voluntary local emissions offsets for air travel will be instituted. These offsets will become mandatory by 2016 to address the major source of transportation emissions. The purchase of offsets directed at local projects on campus could become a valuable funding stream for funding bio-restorative projects while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.



  1. Reduce carbon emissions related to transportation (including air travel, commuting, and fleet vehicles) from fiscal year 2008 baseline
    1. 30 percent by 2015
    2. 40 percent by 2020
    3. 50 percent by 2025


  1. Impose a GHG charge on cars purchasing parking permits based on their relative efficiencies by 2015. Assess a similar fee for students bringing cars to campus but not purchasing parking permits. Revenue will be used to reduce transportation emissions.
  2. Immediately begin to implement the Campus Bicycle Master Plan and improve bicycling infrastructure. Work with cities to improve bicycle feeder routes to campus. Provide campus investment and supplement with revenue from GHG emissions charge on cars.
  3. Create and subsidize a bike sharing program by 2012.
  4. Enact a system for purchasing local emissions offsets from air travel impacts, with a voluntary program beginning by 2012 and recommend to the Board of Trustees to move to mandate a required program by 2016.

Project Team

  • Project Leader:

    Morgan Johnston