Skip over navigation

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 vehicles coming to campus. Alternatives to single-occupant vehicle transportation are essential, as is promoting alternative modes of transportation such as bicycle commuting.

Goals, Strategies & Progress

Goal: Reduce the number of cars commuting to campus by 10 percent by 2020 through a Transportation Demand Management program (baseline year is 2008).

Strategy: Encourage participation in TDM programs.

Progress: From 2010 to 2011, there was a 98 percent increase in the number of campus community members participating in Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs. A majority of the 700 now involved are benefiting from program incentives (see Table 2). In 2010, there was a total of 353 participants. Further information about these programs can be found on the Transportation and Parking Services website.

Table 2: Participation in TDM Programs

Program Description Participants in FY 2011
Car Pool Incentive $25 gas cards available to qualifying car pools 140
Mass Transit Subsidy 50 percent of monthly pass 186
WeCar Car-sharing program 350
Van Pool Program No fuel cost for driver; fuel cost shared between 4+ passengers   36

Strategy: Encourage the use of public mass transit through a University subsidy program.

Progress:

  • In the 2011 fiscal year, 186 commuters participated in the mass transit program, which provides a 50 percent subsidy to eligible commuters.
  • The mass transit subsidy program was extended to include graduate students beginning in July 2011.

Strategy: Develop and promote car pools and van pools to campus community members.

Progress:

  • The van pool program, which was launched in 2009 for faculty and staff members, currently has six active van pools.
  • In 2011, preferred parking was added as an additional benefit for participants in the car and van pool programs.
  • A rideshare database created in 2010 continues to allow 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.

Strategy: Improve the on-campus transit system (TigerTransit).

Progress:

  • From 2010 to 2011, more than 603,000 rides were taken on the campus shuttle service, an increase of about 2 percent, or 13,000 rides, over the previous year.
  • Shuttle stops were analyzed during the fall and spring semesters, resulting in more effective and efficient routes.
  • The campus shuttle system currently 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.

Strategy: Provide and promote a car-sharing service for campus community members.

Progress:

  • Since March 2010, WeCars have been available for faculty, staff and students to rent by the hour or the day. There currently are six WeCars and 350 participants in the program.

Strategy: Improve the campus network of bicycle paths and walkways, and support and promote walking and biking as means of transportation to and on campus.

Progress:
 

  • Nearly a mile of paths and walkways was added to campus in the past year, contributing to a total of about 55 miles. The new walkways suitable for bikes include those constructed at the Sciences Green, from the Elm Drive Circle to the Boathouse on Lake Carnegie, and on a portion of Faculty Road.
  • Future sidewalk extensions were approved for Faculty Road, Washington Road, FitzRandolph Road, Western Way and Broadmead Street.
  • More than 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. In 2011, the waiting list exceeded 350 people for this campuswide service.
  • During the 2010-11 academic year, about 200 bikes were salvaged on campus and either donated to U-Bikes or a nonprofit organization, or scrapped if beyond repair.
  • As part of a campuswide strategy to improve pedestrian and vehicular wayfinding, new signs for buildings and parking information were designed and are expected to be put in place during 2011-12.

Strategy: Communicate information about the University's TDM programs to the campus community with incentives for participation.

Progress:

  • Since its launch in 2010, the TDM electronic newsletter has attracted 300 campus community members as subscribers, 20 percent of whom have signed up this past year.
  • TDM programs were promoted at several sites in the past year, including Freshman Orientation, staff benefits fairs, the Frist Campus Center and the Sustainability Open House.

Goal: Increase efficiency and reduce emissions associated with transportation. 

Strategy: Coordinate campus fleet management to reduce the number of vehicles.

Progress:

  • As the first step in helping to coordinate and maximize the efficiency of the fleet, an inventory of campus vehicles was carried out. Approximately 600 vehicles, including 25 different types, have so far been identified among 51 departments.

Strategy: Standardize electric carts and ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles when University vehicles are replaced or purchased new.

Progress:

  • Electric golf carts are now standardized for all new cart purchases.
  • A task force was assembled to evaluate central oversight of University-owned vehicle purchases to maximize efficiency and minimize carbon footprint.
  • Regarding electric vehicles overall, since 2007, 41 percent of campus vehicles purchased were electric or hybrid.

Strategy: 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 2011, total air passenger miles for University travel arranged through the central travel services office were tracked at 15,246,364 miles — an increase of about 573,630 miles (132 metric tons of CO2), or about 4 percent, from fiscal year 2010. Between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2011, there has been a 17 percent increase in miles traveled.

What's Next

Short Term

  • Further develop TDM incentive programs, including proposing a subsidy for train station parking; increasing the number of preferred parking spaces for car and van pool participants; and increasing car pool incentives.
  • Adjust shuttle routes as needed.
  • To promote use, lower the hourly rate of WeCar during one day of the week and provide bike commuters with a WeCar discount.
  • Update TDM marketing materials by developing interactive tools to promote programs at orientation events and open houses.
  • Conduct a study of more ways to share University-owned vehicles, including options for centralized charging stations for electric vehicles, with a goal of reducing the campus fleet by 5 percent in 2012.
  • Track vehicle miles traveled by commuter cars to report on related emissions reductions.
  • Evaluate the U-Bikes program and usage data and track the fate of abandoned bikes.
  • Implement a campus Bike Master Plan. 

Long Term

  • Continue to reduce the campus fleet, and create maintenance and repair programs.
  • Increase the WeCar fleet on campus beyond six cars, and explore electric WeCar options.
  • Continue to investigate biodiesels that are cost-effective and sustainably produced.
  • Continue to work with key external public transportation partners (e.g., New Jersey Transit) to identify methods to improve service and access for commuters.
  • Continue investment in a sidewalk network that will better connect graduate student and faculty/staff housing communities to campus.
  • Continuously assess ridership of the shuttle system and evaluate strategies to maximize its efficiency, while also maintaining service.
  • Study telecommuting policy and determine the most effective way to communicate videoconferencing and Web-based conferencing alternatives to the campus community.

Awards & Achievements

For the third year in a row, Princeton received the 2011 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.

 

Figure 2: Modes of Transportation

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. 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. 



“The U-Bikes program is exceptional, and provides a much-needed service at Princeton. We (the students) are able to rent bikes and, through the tireless work of the U-Bikes team, keep bikes (personal and rental) in good repair without financial burden. This program is a significant asset to student life at Princeton University.“
–Akil Word-Daniels, graduate student, School of Engineering and Applied Science


 


During the 2010-11 academic year, about 200 bikes were salvaged and either donated to U-Bikes or a nonprofit organization, or scrapped if beyond repair.

 

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. During 2011, "Going Places" was viewed 20,037 times and roughly 10,000 hard copies were printed and distributed.

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.

 

TDM Newsletter

Since its launch in 2010, the TDM electronic newsletter has attracted 300 campus community members as subscribers.