Syracuse University

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SU's use of sustainable transportation grew last year

March 25, 2010

Will Wallak
(315) 443-5887

Syracuse University Parking and Transit Services has been tracking a positive campus trend: increased use of more sustainable transportation modes such as the Centro bus service and Zipcar program. Choosing these and other eco-friendly modes of transportation–such as carpooling, ridesharing, biking or walking–is helping University community members save money on vehicle fuel and maintenance costs, as well as lessening the burden on campus traffic and parking. Plus, the reduced carbon dioxide emissions helps SU achieve its Climate Action Plan goal of being carbon neutral by 2040. 

More Centro riders
The number of SU Centro bus passengers has risen, pushing the number of riders over the two million mark last year. Total fiscal year 2009 ridership–including all SU campus, free-fare zone, Carousel and Quad shuttle routes–increased to more than 2.1 million, or by more than 8.4 percent, over fiscal year 2008.

SU students, faculty and staff can ride the on-campus Centro shuttle buses for free. An extensive system of Centro routes, including specific free-fare zones and other routes that do charge a fee, can also take riders to many off-campus destinations. 

“The increased ridership can be viewed as a positive trend from a sustainability standpoint, since more public transportation passengers have likely saved many individual vehicle trips,” says  Scot Vanderpool, parking service manager with SU Parking and Transit Services. “The Centro bus service is affordable and convenient, and the students really depend on it, especially given the influx of about 400 students to the South Campus area at the University Village Apartments. Eighty-five percent of campus bus travel involves getting students back and forth from South Campus housing.” 

More Zipcars on campus
Another positive sustainable transportation trend is the recent addition of three new Zipcars, bringing SU’s fleet up to a total of five. This has expanded Zipcar access and convenience for the 300 students and 26 staff and faculty members currently registered to use the popular program. According to Zipcar, each SU car is in use 65 percent of the time, or 15.6 hours per day, including weekends and overnight. 

SU graduate Alejandro Fernandez-Lovo ‘09 knows all about the convenience and cost savings students can reap by using Zipcar instead of maintaining a vehicle at school. After leading the effort to bring the Zipcar program to SU as the Student Association’s director of off-campus student affairs, Fernandez-Lovo became a regular Zipcar user. 

“Zipcar gave me another option to go to the grocery store if I missed the Shoppingtown bus or couldn’t get a ride from a friend,” says Fernandez-Lovo, who now works as a local project coordinator for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “I would use Zipcar at least once a month, essentially for groceries, and my roommates usually pitched in, too.” 

Students, faculty and staff can join Zipcar for $35 a year and will gain access to SU’s Zipcars for $9 per hour, or $65 per day, with gas, insurance and 180 free miles, parking in the reserved spot and 24/7 roadside assistance included. Additionally, the $35 annual membership fee is credited toward hourly or daily use of the vehicle. Full details are available at SU’s Zipcar site

The five Zipcars are conveniently located on campus in the following locations:

  • Blue Honda Civic and Gray Toyota Matrix: located in the Q3/Arch lot near Carnegie Library and Archbold Gym.
  • Red Honda Civic: located in the Waverly lot on the corner of Waverly Avenue and South Crouse Avenue.
  • Gray Honda Insight (hybrid vehicle): located at 180 Small Road on South Campus. 
  • Silver Honda Insight (hybrid vehicle): located at 200 Slocum Heights Drive on South Campus.  

Keep moving forward
Although campus sustainability has arguably been boosted thanks to growth in SU’s Centro bus ridership and the expanded Zipcar program, there’s still more that can be done. Those who commute to campus alone in their own vehicle may want to consider switching to a more sustainable ride. A good place to start is to look at what commuting costs in terms of gas, maintenance, time and carbon dioxide emitted. Using the SU Sustainability Division’s commuting cost calculator can provide this information. 

Yes, old habits are hard to break. However, for faculty and staff looking to green-up their commute, SU does offer the following options:

  • One-Seat Rides Program–encourages University employees to park their cars and ride a Centro bus directly to campus;
  • Centro Fare Deal Program/Guaranteed Ride Home Service–allows SU employees to purchase pre-tax bus passes and offers a Guaranteed Ride Home Service, which provides monthly Centro Pass holders a ride to one location from any SU location in the event of an emergency or work-related situation that causes the employee to miss the last regularly scheduled bus;
  • Carpool Parking Program–an option for University permit parking that provides parking for two or more University employees who commute to work together; and
  • SU Ride Share program–allows University community members to register with Parking and Transit Services and match themselves with people from the same area to share the driving responsibilities. 

More information on all of these sustainable transportation programs is available at the Parking and Transit Services website.

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