GOOD

How Eliminating the 'Yes, Buts' Cut Stanford Commuting by One Fourth


Many, many years ago, as a freshman in college, I had a fairly simple morning commute. After the alarm at ten to nine, I would roll out of bed, brush my teeth, grab a notebook, walk out the door of my dorm building, take three steps, and walk right into Barnard Hall for my 9 a.m. Biology class. Sometimes I changed out of my pajamas, but I usually rolled in dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt, a real fashionista in the making. (Ah, the beauty of attending a women’s college!)
In the U.S., most undergraduate students live on or near campus, meaning that they don’t need to worry about the costs, or environmental impact, of commuting to school. Faculty and staff, however, rarely live so close, forcing universities either to build sprawling parking lots or come up with alternative systems of bringing in their employees. Aware of the costs of this kind of construction, as well as the traffic problems that all of these drivers can create, most schools now employ some form of transportation demand —or TDM—programs to lower transportation costs by reducing driving. A few schools, though, are going beyond the basics, developing comprehensive and effective TDMs, and acting as models for campuses all over the country.
Perhaps not surprisingly, considering its overachieving student body, Stanford University’s TDM, which has reduced its faculty and staff commuters from 72% to 42% since 2000, is smart and successful: a perfect model to borrow from. Though the school has had a TDM program since the mid-nineties, it’s current version was launched in late 2002 after Santa Clara County gave it an ultimatum: it would either have to find a way to expand its campus without increasing traffic, contribute financially to improving 15 intersections in the region, or put its plans on hold.
Not the type to shy away from a challenge, Stanford began employing a number of programs to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home. According to Brodie Hamilton, director of parking and transportation at Stanford, “We developed a program that dealt with what I call the ‘yes buts,’ trying to deal with commuters’ barriers.” Looking at the reasons people stayed away from public transportation, they sought solutions. When people would say, “‘I’d use alternative transportation but,’” Hamilton says, they “tried to look at all those barriers and come up with programs that would deal with them.”
So far that has included providing employees with “Go Passes” for unlimited access to CalTrain – driving the commuter rail’s usage by faculty up from 4 percent to over 22 percent—as well as bringing a 61-car Zipcar program onto campus. The “Commute Club” is another popular option, paying anyone who doesn’t buy a parking permit $300 in cash. That Club has grown from 3500 members in 2000 to over 8300. But not everything has been successful. One transit pass would allow people in the East Bay to connect to CalTrain through BART, another public transportation line. “We thought this was just going to be fabulous,” Hamilton says, “but it went over like a lead balloon.”
The key to Stanford’s success, according to Hamilton, is providing variety and options for commuters. Other schools looking to follow Stanford’s lead should do the same. “Try to put together something that has many pieces and that will support the commuter in so many different ways. There are often so many smaller pieces that by implementing those, you deal with a lot of the barriers that commuters are faced with.”
Join us for our Fix Your Street Challenge on the last Saturday of May. Click here to say you'll Do It and be sure to share stories of transportation innovation all month.\n


\n
Photo via (cc) Cyclelicious
Articles
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health