May 24, 2010

Web Extra: U. of Albany to benefit from increased CDTA services



When school resumes this fall, students, faculty and staff at the University at Albany in New York will enjoy increased Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) services, which will also, for the most part, be free through a program called Universal Access.

"We currently have six lines that are available to our campus members. This [expansion] will open up access to all of the CDTA lines," said Mary Ellen Mallia, director of environmental sustainability at UAlbany, who added that are only a couple of exceptions to the free service.

The CDTA's additional services increase those six lines to nearly 60, according to Mallia, however, UAlbany expects that probably 80 percent of its traffic will still occur on the six lines that are currently available. The changes will start in June and full force in September when the students return.

In addition to access to the CDTA lines, UAlbany also has its own bus fleet that transports students, as well as a grocery shuttle. All of the buses run on biodiesel and, this fall, the University will add two hybrids to the fleet. Its buses are also being equipped with bike racks.

"We have several other programs in place to reduce the use of single occupancy vehicle," said Mallia. "We have a carpooling service (I Pool2) and a ride sharing service (Zipride), which are free of charge to the campus community. We have also started a bike share program as well."

UAlbany will also offer a car share program in conjunction with Connect by Hertz this fall, which is a pay as you go service enabling community members — both on and off the campus — to sign up with Hertz and reserve cars on an hourly basis, added Mallia.

"We promote these programs throughout our Websites, meetings with student groups, and employee lunch and learns," said Mallia about UAlbany's effort to get students out of their vehicles. "Each fall we also have a day dedicated to sustainable transportation, called 'Destination Green,' where we promote these programs."

A recent study conducted by UAlbany found that 51 percent of its undergrad students use either its bus fleet or CDTA on a daily basis, with the number dropping to 44 percent when including graduate students.

Additionally, 16 percent walk, 2 percent carpool and 1 percent bike.

Aside from launching the car share program this fall, Mallia added that UAlbany is also hoping to expand its bike share program.

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