Sunday, October 3, 2010

Environmentally Sustainable Transportation at DePaul

In the 1940’s approximately 23.4 billion people used public transportation compared with only 9.4 billion today.  This is a large difference and in 1946 the population was a lot less then it is today!  With the increasing amount of people driving cars and less people using public transportation the amount of air pollution and impact on the environment is growing.

DePaul University is encouraging students and faculty to help eliminate air pollution by providing sustainable transportation programs.  They currently are getting a D grade in sustainability in the category of transportation which can be seen at the college sustainability report card.  From this website we can see that DePaul still has some work to do even though they have made a large impact already.

One program that has a large impact on air pollution and gas emissions is that all undergraduate students receive a free transit card for use on all Chicago Transit Authority bus, subway and elevated lines.  While this may come as a cost to DePaul, the environmental benefits are important to think about.  DePaul has a large undergraduate class and by providing free transit cards they are being encouraged to take public transportation instead of driving.  Students are given the change to eliminate pollution and gas emissions that they produce each day.  According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), “public transportation in the United States saves approximately 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Yet only 14 million Americans use public transportation daily while 88 percent of all trips in the United States are made by car—and many of those cars carry only one person.”  Each person can make a difference and become a more environmentally conscience traveler.  DePaul also offers financial incentives to graduate students who buy a CTA pass each month.

Members of the university community also participate in a car-sharing program.  By contracting with the “I-GO” program DePaul is allowing students and faculty the opportunity to rent a hybrid car to get around campus or around Chicago.  According to their website, one I-GO car replaces about 17 cars on the road, resulting in an estimated reduction of more than 3,200 vehicles in Chicago since I-GO opened for business in 2002. By offering I-GO, DePaul is encouraging people to not only do this while they are in school but in the future as well.  

DePaul is also encouraging students to ride their bikes instead of driving or taking public transportation.  This is an even more environmentally sustainable option.  By providing secure bike corrals on campus DePaul is making it accessible and easy for students to ride their bikes to class and around campus.  DePaul has even established a bike intern position which will promote biking to and around campus and is renting bikes to those that do not have one.  Creating an intern position that encourages students to ride bikes is a great way to engage students with a person that is in the same situation as them.  The intern will know the daily struggles of the students and be able to relate the benefits that riding a bike can have on them and the environment.  By riding a bike to and from class a student is able to do something positive for the environment and do something good for their health while saving money.  The sustainable practices that DePaul has put into place around transportation are having an impact on the environment and also helping to shape the future behavior of students, their families and friends when they are thinking about how they will get from one place to another.

Here are some websites that may be of interest on sustainable transportation:

Posted by Julia Jolliff 
Photo credit ISE Corporation

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