The 2023-24 charge letter identified the Commuter Program as a priority area for the Transportation iCAP team.
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Key Objective: 3.4.1 Develop a Commuter Program
The iCAP 2020, objective 3.4.1 is: “Develop a Commuter Program (Bus, Bike, and Hike) for faculty and staff. Register 100 people by FY24 and 500 people by FY30.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is Parking with the support of F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for the Commuter Program: Bus, Bike, and Hike.
A convenient Commuter Program will incentivize staff and faculty members to leave personal vehicles off campus. Incentives through this program would only be offered to employees who relinquish their annual campus parking permits; as such, all participants will be required to obtain verification through the Parking Department.
Currently, six of the 14 Big Ten schools implement some version of a commuter program for employees and/or students. As inspired by other institutions’ efforts, incentives implemented on the Urbana campus could include:
Limited availability of daily parking passes for occasional needs;
Access to an emergency ride home program;
Direct support for active travel choices made by university employees;
Discounted charging for EVs;
Discounted bike-sharing opportunities;
Discounted UI Ride access;
Discounted or credited medical insurance;
Campus shower access;
Free ZipCar memberships, including a yearly driving credit stipend;
Opportunities for eco-conscious travelers to win a gift card or other monetary incentive; and/or
Opportunities to receive tax credits.
Our proposed Commuter Program will encourage employees to forgo parking permits in favor of active and shared modes of transportation. The program will also connect employees with convenient solutions such as telecommuting and carpooling programs. Campus as a Living Lab seed funding provided financial support to pursue a survey on driving and carpooling potential. The survey plans to provide a greater understanding of why people choose their primary mode of transportation in order to develop the most effective solutions to reduce the number of vehicles on campus.
As we encourage community members to take advantage of public transportation and the need for mass transit grows, we remain committed to maintaining our strong relationship with the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD). MTD is an excellent example of a sustainable operation, and it is certified by the Illinois Green Business Association (which was started by Illinois students). It is also ISO-14001-certified since 2013, and has converted 85% of its fleet to hybrid electric buses. Most recently, MTD began using hydrogen-fuel-cell buses.
To increase awareness of the opportunities provided by MTD, F&S will offer at least two “It’s Your MTD, Too” workshops annually. These workshops are a collaboration between F&S and MTD to encourage students, staff, and faculty members to use MTD’s services.
As with all iCAP 2020 strategies, public health is of the utmost importance. We will be mindful of all efforts to promote the use of public transportation with a view to ensuring sustainability and safety.
Bicycling is the most sustainable form of personal transportation, allowing individuals to travel long distances per unit of energy (in this case, the calorie). Several groups have worked together for many years to improve the user-friendliness of our county’s bicycle infrastructure. In addition to implementing the 2014 Campus Bicycle Master Plan, we will support and enhance the Bike at Illinois initiative to spread awareness of related programming, safety, rules of the road, and other resources.
Walking is an active mode of transportation that is not only good for the environment, but also beneficial to individuals’ mental and physical health. We will encourage awareness of the myriad benefits that walking (to work or class, or simply for enjoyment) has to offer through a training that focuses on “the wellness of walking.”
To make walking on campus as pleasant as possible, we will use strategic landscape architecture to create aesthetically pleasing pathways. We will ensure that campus pathway designs prioritize accessibility and are pedestrian friendly. See the Land & Water chapter for more information.
Following is some information from University of Wisconsin-Madison regarding their Emergency Ride Home program: