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Transportation

Introduction

Transportation is the second largest source of carbon emissions associated with the University. While the emissions impact is small compared to those from heating, cooling and electrifying the campus, the transportation sector as a whole is a major contributor to the carbon footprint of the United States. It is important for Princeton University to model sustainable transportation alternatives to encourage a shift in culture.

The catalyst for Princeton's transportation goals is a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program implemented to reduce the number of single-occupant cars coming to campus. Alternatives to single-occupant vehicle transportation are essential, as is promoting alternative modes of transportation such as bicycle commuting.

Table 3: TDM Programs
Program Description Start Date Progress as
of Sept 2010
Car Pool Incentive $25 gas cards available to qualifying car pools Jan. 2009 57 participants
Mass Transit Subsidy 50 percent of monthly pass Mar. 2009 159 participants
WeCar Car-sharing program   Mar. 2010  120 participants
Van Pool Program No fuel cost for driver; fuel cost shared between 4+ passengers Nov. 2009 17 participants
U-Bikes Bikes rented for $15/semester Fall 
2007
All 120 bikes rented

Goals & Progress

  1. Goal: Collect baseline data to track the goal of reducing the number of cars commuting to campus by 10 percent by 2020.

    Progress:
    • According to data compiled by a traffic consultant as part of the Campus Plan effort, an average of 4,700 cars traveled to and from campus each weekday in 2008. 
    • More than 230* campus community members have participated actively in TDM incentive programs since they began in fall 2008 (table above). Further information about these programs can be found on the Transportation and Parking Services website.
    • A rideshare database was created allowing students to search online and car pool with others going to nearby areas during school breaks. This tool is a companion to the rideshare database developed for faculty and staff members in 2008.
    • Three van pools for faculty and staff members began in 2009-10. 

      *The refined 2010 number takes into account only "active" participants, in contrast to data reported in the 2009 report, which included some non-active participants.
  2. Goal: Conduct an inventory to evaluate the campus fleet and identify strategies for emissions reduction.

    Progress:
    • There are approximately 636 vehicles in the campus fleet.
    • An inventory has begun to identify use, types and condition of vehicles.
    • A University vehicle replacement program calling for ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles is in progress, starting with the adoption of an electric passenger golf cart policy. Since 2007, 41 percent of the campus vehicles purchased were electric or hybrid.
  3. Goal: Improve the campus shuttle system.

    Progress:
    • From 2009 to 2010, more than 590,000 rides were taken on the campus shuttle service, similar to the previous year's ridership.
    • As of June 2010, the campus shuttle system features 14 buses that run on 20 percent biodiesel made from soy. While biodiesel made from soy benefits local air quality, Princeton continues to seek options for sustainable biofuels made from waste products.
    • Many campus shuttle stops feature a route map with solar-powered back-lighting for evening and night viewing (see photo in sidebar).
  4. Goal: Improve the campus network of bicycle paths and walkways, and provide incentives for using them.

    Progress:
    • Draft of Bike Master Plan completed.
    • Online bicycle registration database created; as of June 2010, more than 1,200 Princeton campus community members have registered. 
    • New systematic approach on abandoned bike removal developed, saving up to $40,000 per year in labor and administrative costs. 
    • During the 2009-10 academic year, 90 bikes were salvaged and either donated to U-Bikes or a nonprofit organization, or scrapped if beyond repair.
    • Almost 150 bicycles (a combination of new and refurbished abandoned) are maintained by the student-run U-Bikes rental and bikeshare program for students, faculty and staff — now with a 350-person waiting list in its pilot season as a campuswide service.
    • New sidewalks have been completed on Faculty Road to improve sidewalk connectivity. Additional improvements are planned. 
    • Additional walkway enhancements are outlined in the Landscape section.
  5. Goal: Track University-related air travel to assess carbon footprint and consider air travel alternatives where feasible.

    Progress:
    • Air travel-related emissions represent less than 2 percent of the University's carbon footprint.
    • For fiscal year 2010, total air passenger miles for University travel arranged through the central travel services office were 14,672,734 — a reduction of about 629,990 miles from fiscal year 2009. Associated emissions were reduced by 146 metric tons of CO2 to 2,609 metric tons. Between 2008 and 2009, there was a 2 percent increase in miles traveled, and between 2007 and 2008, there was a 15 percent increase in miles traveled.
  6. Goal: Communicate TDM to campus community.

    Progress:
    • Launched virtual "TigerTracker" allowing shuttles to be tracked online and through a mobile app.
    • Promoted TDM programs through the Transportation and Parking Services website.
    • Organized ongoing promotion for the WeCar program at an information table in the Frist Campus Center twice per week during the academic year.
    • Created a seasonal TDM electronic newsletter; 291 members signed up as of June 2010.

What's Next

Short Term

  • Track vehicle miles traveled by commuter cars to report on related emissions and reductions.
  • Coordinate management of the campus fleet to increase efficiency and reduce the overall number of vehicles; update it with a centralized charging stations/vehicle sharing study.
  • Implement a campus Bike Master Plan.
  • Implement a parking hangtag return in fall 2010, where those taking advantage of TDM incentive programs are asked to relinquish parking hangtags in return for a limited number of one-day parking passes.
  • Continuously assess ridership of the shuttle system and evaluate strategies to maximize its efficiency, while also maintaining service.
  • Promote faculty/staff use of WeCar and expand the van pool program.
  • Promote TDM programs at off-campus University sites.
  • Evaluate the U-Bikes program and usage data.
  • Track the fate of abandoned bikes.
  • Complete sidewalk extensions to enhance connectivity of walkways on FitzRandolph Road, Western Way, Broadmead Street, and Faculty and Washington roads.
  • Determine the most effective way to communicate videoconferencing and Web-based conferencing alternatives to the campus community.
  • Implement the first phase of the new wayfinding program to direct motorists to their destination by the most efficient means possible, minimizing traffic congestion and wandering motorists.

Long Term

  • Study telecommuting policy.
  • Continue to work with key external public transportation partners (e.g., New Jersey Transit) to identify methods to improve service and access for commuters.
  • Develop incentives for cyclists/walkers.
  • Continue investment in a sidewalk network that will better connect graduate student and faculty/staff housing communities to campus.

Figure 4: Modes of Transportation


The vast majority of faculty and staff drive to the University as the sole occupant of a passenger vehicle. Click to enlarge.
     
     

WeCar

WeCar is a car-sharing service that allows faculty, staff and students to rent a car from campus for a few hours or a whole day. Implemented in March 2010, about 120 people were participating by June.

 

Awards & Achievements

For the second year in a row, Princeton received the 2010 New Jersey Smart Workplaces Award, Platinum (highest) Level, from the state Department of Transportation for efforts to provide alternative transportation programs for employees who commute.
    
     

Going Places

Transportation and Parking Services has produced "Going Places: A Car-free Guide to Princeton University" (.pdf) for campus community members to spread the word about alternative transportation programs and incentives.


Shuttle sign

This campus shuttle stop near Fisher Hall is one of the many that includes a route map with solar-powered back-lighting.

 

Cyclab

The CycLab is Princeton's bicycle do-it-yourself cooperative repair and maintenance shop staffed entirely by volunteers.

 

U-Bikes

Watch a student-produced video profiling the U-Bikes program and the CycLab, which are expanding a model of sustainable transportation on campus.

 

"I worked with Jeffrey Domanski and Will Fisher to manage U-Bikes, as well as expand the program to serve approximately 100 additional students and staff. I also founded the CycLab — a volunteer-run DIY [do-it-yourself] bicycle repair shop. Through working with the Office of Sustainability, I learned a lot about project management. I learned how to deal with partner organizations/companies and how to troubleshoot. I also developed greater leadership and delegating skills.
—Sean Gleason '09, bicycle messenger ("for the time being"), Philadelphia

 

Lesson Learned

Not all biodiesel is sustainable: The University continues to monitor the sourcing of biodiesel for both the campus shuttle system as well as for potential use in the cogeneration plant. It sometimes is challenging to ascertain whether every drop of biodiesel burned is from a sustainable source. Generally biodiesel manufactured from waste byproducts is considered sustainable, rather than that manufactured directly from crops.