Presenting: Four University Stars in Transportation Sustainability

Universities are the wheels behind the transportation sustainability movement. With greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle congestion ever-present concerns on and around college campuses, administration and student groups alike are turning to alternate modes of transportation. We’d like to shine a spotlight on four universities doing a remarkable job fueling transportation sustainability. Allow us to present:

Yale University

The prestigious, New Haven-based institution emphasizes in its 2013-2016 Sustainability Strategic Plan “a responsibility to future generations to ensure that sustainable practices are at the heart of our university.” It makes clear that the entire campus community, including faculty, staff, and students, must engage in order to bring about change.

The plan specifically addresses transportation sustainability, a primary goal being to decrease traffic congestion and vehicle emissions. Yale administration actively encourages car-free transit by heavily subsidizing bike share rentals  and providing free helmets upon completion of a bike safety course. It offers incentives for biking and walking to campus, such as use of gym showers and a free monthly breakfast, and it also extends a free shuttle service and discounted parking for carpoolers. Moreover, students, faculty, and staff members can apply to the Yale Green Fund, which allocates up to $25,000 in interest-free loans for innovative solutions to campus-wide sustainability issues. Yale provides ways for its entire community to participate in its push towards greener transportation.

California State University, East Bay

CSUEB has already been recognized in the community for its commitment to environmental leadership. The university won a City of Hayward Environmental Award in 2015 and was praised for signing the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in January.

With a student population of over 13,000, CSUEB actively supports many strategies for climate neutrality. For example, it provides free charging stations and priority parking for electric cars. It organizes carpools and vanpools for students and staff/faculty, and provides complimentary shuttle service between campus and two local rail stations. In the fall of 2014, CSUEB partnered with Zagster to encourage a healthy, emission-free mode of transportation on and around campus. And for students interested in sustainability, they can participate in a paid internship through the Pioneers for Change program to engage with university sustainability efforts.

Duke University

Duke University and its Health System are home to 30,000 employees and nearly 15,000 students, so it is no wonder that alternative transportation methods are made readily available. Duke is on two national lists as a “Bicycle Friendly University” and a “Best Workplace for Commuters”, being recognized particularly for its GoPass program, which allows unlimited rides on local and regional bus systems (free to all students and just $25/year for staff and faculty). Duke also offers great perks to registered bicycle commuters, such as free showers at recreation centers and parking passes.

With dozens of campus groups working for a “greener” Duke, it is easy to get involved. Campus Sustainability Fellows (CSF) is a paid student program that helps individual schools at Duke assess and modify their environmental footprint. Students for Sustainable Living (SSL) provides internships focused on education and outreach about living consciously. These programs all support Duke’s Transportation Demand Management effort, which seeks to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles traveling to and around campus.

Santa Clara University

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, SCU is no stranger to innovation. It has taken the initiative to become the 3rd most friendly university for electric cars, with free charging stations for all campus parking permit holders. Carefully addressed in its 2020 Strategic Plan is an objective to “strengthen SCU's culture of environmental sustainability by becoming a climate-neutral, zero-waste campus”, and thus far it has remained true to this direction.

SCU provides several incentives for commuting in an emission-reducing manner. The University partners with Zimride and Zipcar to make carpooling and car-sharing easy. With Zagster bikes conveniently placed around campus, individuals can also partake in the Derozap program, which rewards bicycle commuters with parking passes. There is excellent local public transportation and employees are encouraged to take advantage with significantly subsidized transit tickets. In addition, students, faculty, and staff can all become Sustainability Liaisons in order to increase overall campus engagement, building a strong community around transportation sustainability initiatives.