[IMAGE]UNCG-HEAT-shuttle-full-2.jpg[/IMAGE]GREENSBORO, N.C. — Personal vehicles are increasingly optional at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) as the campus makes strides to be more sustainable and offer students, faculty and staff greater transportation options.
That work is gaining attention. The university was recently named one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters by the National Center for Transit Research. UNCG is the first employer in the Triad to earn the national recognition.
“We have been working on changing a culture at UNCG so people no longer feel they have to come to school with a car,” said Scott Milman, UNCG’s director of auxiliary services, who oversees the university’s parking and transportation operations.
With choices ranging from on-campus car sharing services to fare-free public transportation, more and more Spartans are choosing to try alternative means of getting to and from campus. UNCG participants made up half of the more than 4,000 pledges collected during the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) annual Commuter Challenge. Those making pledges promised to try a sustainable form of transportation: a bus system, carpooling, walking, biking or telecommuting.
UNCG’s ridership numbers on Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) buses, especially the Higher Education Area Transit (HEAT) service, continue to grow. For the 2009-10 academic year, Spartans took 197,061 rides on HEAT buses, a 44 percent increase over the previous year. UNCG has the second highest participation in the HEAT network, slightly behind N.C. A&T, which had 202,169 riders.
UNCG also introduced two new services this fall — Zipcar and Zimride — designed to reduce the need for individually-owned cars on campus. Zipcar is a car-sharing service that allows members to reserve cars by the hour or the day, easing congestion on campus and reducing the need for additional parking. It’s estimated that every Zipcar takes 15-20 personal cars off the road. UNCG has four, on-campus Zipcars available for members. Additional information can be found at www.zipcar.com.
Zimride is a free rideshare matching network that helps connect drivers and riders interested in carpooling. Open to the UNCG community through a private network, Zimride helps registered users offer or request rides for occasional road trips as well as daily commutes. More information can be found at http://zimride.uncg.edu.
Spartan Cycles is another initiative launching this fall. Once fully implemented, the program will allow UNCG students and employees to check out bicycles from the Housing & Residence Life FIXT office. Bikes in the program were provided by the non-profit bike advocacy group Bicycling in Greensboro with support from UNCG campus police.
“UNCG has been working hard to expand Campus Access Management programs like our partnerships with HEAT, GTA, PART, UNCG bi-ped programs and Zimride ridesharing,” Milman said. “Zipcar provides the missing link for our faculty, staff and students — access to a car on campus.”
Provisions have also been made for commuters who may need a ride in case of an emergency. PART now offers an Emergency Ride Home Program, giving a free ride to UNCG students and employees in the PART coverage area who commuted to work using a sustainable form of transportation and have an emergency. Covered emergencies include an illness or severe crisis for the commuter or an immediate family member, or abandonment caused if a ridesharing driver has to stay late or leave early, leaving their passenger without a way home. For more information, visit http://www.partnc.org/uncgemergency.html.
UNCG’s focus on alternative transportation expands the university’s sustainability efforts and allows students and employees to save more of their hard earned money, Milman said.
“Sending a car to school adds to the cost of attendance. We want students and parents to know they can save money by coming to UNCG without a car, and Campus Access Management will be there to help with their transportation needs.”