Transportation and parking goals focus on sustainability
by Ruth Stevens
One goal of the Sustainability Plan adopted by the University in February is to decrease by 10 percent the number of cars commuting to campus on a daily basis by the year 2020 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease impervious ground cover on campus.
Ten percent may not sound like much. But when there are 4,877 faculty and staff with 7,878 parking decals, Kim Jackson comes up with the nice round number of 500 fewer cars.
“We have to ask everyone to change how they look at traveling to and from campus,” said Jackson, the director of Transportation and Parking Services.
After utility emissions from the central plant and purchased power, transportation accounts for the second-largest source of campus emissions. Since joining the staff in January 2008, Jackson has been developing ways to achieve the Sustainability Plan’s goal involving “Transportation Demand Management” (TDM).
TDM refers to the application of strategies and policies to reduce the use of single-occupant vehicles coming to and parking on campus by encouraging the use of a range of transportation options, including public transit, bicycling, walking and ridesharing.
In July, Transportation and Parking Services hired Andrea DeRose as TDM manager to provide leadership and oversight of the program.
Some of the strategies and policies that are being implemented, starting this fall, include:
- Instituting a new vehicle registration program for faculty, staff and students parking on campus.
- Developing and promoting car and van pools.
- Encouraging the use of public mass transit to campus.
- Promoting walking and biking as means of transportation to and on campus.
- Improving and integrating the on-campus transit system (TigerTransit).
- Exploring telecommuting and flextime programs.
- Communicating TDM program successes to the campus community.
Previously, faculty and staff could register an unlimited number of vehicles, and the parking decals they received were valid for a three-year period. When faculty, staff and students registered their vehicles for the 2008-09 academic year, the new parking permit consisted of both a hangtag and a decal.
Faculty and staff will need to renew their permits on an annual basis. This year’s registration began Oct. 21, and faculty/staff permits expired on Oct. 31. If two University employees reside in the same household and each need to park a vehicle on campus, they needed to register both vehicles separately and received one hangtag and decal for each vehicle. A faculty or staff member can register multiple vehicles and receive multiple stickers, but will only be issued one hangtag and will be responsible for switching the hangtag to the vehicle that will be parked on campus.
Graduate students and seniors, juniors and sophomores also will have an annual registration. Students began registering their vehicles in mid-September and were expected to have obtained their permits by Oct. 17. Freshmen cannot park on campus and, starting in the fall of 2009, sophomores will not be able to park on campus.
Dive into the pool
With the launch of Transportation and Parking Services’ new website — www.princeton.edu/parking or www.princeton.edu/transportation — in October, members of the University community now have an easy way to access car pool and van pool information.
According to DeRose, there is a Rideshare Carpool Service, where interested faculty and staff can enter their commuting information into a database and then wait to be contacted, or they can search the database for others who meet their criteria to establish a car pool. Car pooling can start at the individual’s house, or members of a car pool can meet at Park and Ride locations listed on the website. The site also suggests ways of dividing the commuting costs between participants.
If there is an emergency and a car pool participant must leave work early, the University has developed a Guaranteed Ride Home program, which enables any car pool participant to receive a ride home if necessary. Participants are allowed a limited number of rides per academic year.
DeRose hopes to have at least two van pools set up by mid-November. Van pools can carry up to seven individuals from an agreed-upon location. The vans will be supplied to the University through a third-party vendor, which will handle management, maintenance and insurance of the vehicle. The leasing of the vans will be subsidized through the University, while members of the van pool will be asked to supply the fuel costs. The only member who will not pay for fuel is the driver.
The new website also contains information about public transportation options to and from campus, including train and bus routes. DeRose’s plans include working with New Jersey Transit to look into more convenient schedules and rail pass discounts for members of the University community. She also hopes to make faculty and staff more aware of a pre-tax spending account that is available for commuters.
In order to promote biking to and on campus, Transportation and Parking Services and the Office of Sustainability have produced a bicycle map of the University and surrounding area. Designated bike paths, shared paths, bikeable roadways and off-street paths are noted, as well as public transportation and shuttle stops. The reverse side of the map features cycling tips. The maps are available in the two offices and on the Transportation and Parking Services website.
Other initiatives will include seeking resources for better biking and walking paths with improved lighting, bike-share and rental programs, and bike storage and repair facilities, as well as locations where staff bicycle-commuters can wash and change before work.
An improved on-campus transit system — TigerTransit — will be launched with the new year on Jan. 5, according to Jackson. Through the request for proposal process, a firm has been selected to serve as the provider for the new service. In addition to transportation services in and around the immediate campus, the new TigerTransit will extend to the Forrestal Campus and to the University’s newly leased office space at 701 Canal Pointe Blvd.
As part of a longer-term effort, Jackson and DeRose are working with the Office of Human Resources staff to consider how telecommuting and flextime programs could help reduce the number of single-occupant vehicles on campus.
In addition to speaking to groups such as the Academic and Administrative Managers Group and meeting with various individual departments and offices on campus about the TDM efforts, Jackson is hoping to communicate much of the information about her office’s efforts through the new website. The site is intended to be more user-friendly, with options such as a frequently asked questions section; parking and transit updates; and information about TDM.