The Yale Transportation Options program will remind University parkers of the advantages of using more sustainable modes of travel to campus in an up-close-and-personal way via a communication being launched at the beginning of April.
Anyone who pays to park on campus and lives within a quarter-mile radius of a Yale Shuttle or CTTransit stop, or within two miles of a train station, will receive an e-mail outlining, in very specific and personalized terms, those options. The benefits of choosing these alternatives, both environmental and economic, will also be explained.
Recipients will be given specifics about the shuttle or bus routes that are within walking distance of their homes or the location of any train station within two miles of their home. The e-mail will also note the number of other Yale employees within their zip code, with whom they might be able to share a ride to work — thereby receiving a significant discount on their annual parking permit.
Equally important, the e-mail will include information about the dollars the commuters could save annually in gas, parking fees and vehicle maintenance, as well as how much they could reduce their carbon footprint.
The personalized e-mail announcement is the latest tool in the Transportation Options program's effort to provide commuters with the tools they need to make informed transportation decisions.
Many individuals are unaware that — be it via shuttles, buses or trains — public transportation is continually evolving, offering new routes, stops and schedules to meet commuters' changing needs, says Holly Parker, director of Yale Transportation Options. "For example, many people who considered, and rejected, the Shore Line East commuter rail service years ago, might be surprised to find that they've added more service," she explains. To ensure that campus parkers are aware of their ever-changing options, Parker plans to send out the e-mails twice a year.
The first stage of the project's development was executed by four students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) — Joe Famely, Samantha Carter, Nick Caruso and Eric Desatnik — as a project for Professor Ellen Brennan Galvin's "Transportation and Urban Land-Use Planning" class last year. The second stage of the project, building the scripts that generate personalized commute information using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, was developed by 2009 F&ES graduate Casey Brown.
"It took months to find someone with the expertise to develop this functionality," says Parker, who through Yale's own GIS specialists combed a GIS users' conference in California, and consulted GIS specialists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and beyond to find someone who could help. Given that experience, Parker does not believe that such a project has been done before.