To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Transportation surveys to provide data for future sustainability improvements

A random sampling of student commuters, faculty and staff were asked to respond to a survey regarding transportation on Thursday, Nov. 12. This is a yearly survey, conducted in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Rideshare program (MassRIDES). It is the first of two surveys that will be used to gauge the state of transportation on campus.

The survey will gather statistics for MassDOT relating to the number of commuters coming to campus each week and their main mode of transportation. While providing data to MassRIDES is the primary goal of the first survey, Mary Fischer, manager for sustainability programs, hopes to use the data to develop sustainability initiatives. In an email to The Brandeis Hoot, Sustainability Programs intern Margaret Black wrote, “We are also using this survey as a way to understand campus sustainability within the context of Brandeis’ commitment to reduce our carbon emissions.”

The results of the survey will affect the approach Fischer takes with a second, springtime survey. She hopes to use the second one to look more closely at alternative transportation methods for students, staff and faculty commuting to and from the campus.

The second “survey is interested in gauging the Brandeis communities interest in a rideshare program for students or faculty, carpool groups, shuttles to T stops or ways encourage biking or walking,” Black said. “We hope to better understand what barriers students and faculty face to alternative forms of commuting, and thus create new potential solutions to reduce the number of single-occupancy cars on campus”

To create the second survey, Fischer and Black have already reached out to faculty, staff, facilities members and human resources. They plan to incorporate the opinions they’ve received to develop a well-rounded approach. Fischer and Black have also looked at the modes of transportation used at nearby campuses. “While the questions that will be asked on the second survey are entirely potential ideas, they come from thought-out solutions that have worked in other schools or institutions regarding reducing cars,” Black said.

Students are optimistic about the surveys. “There is this disconnect that I have with the actual campus. I think surveys like these can really help. And I think having more resources in terms of transportation for people who live off campus would be really helpful in reconciling that feeling,” Antoine Malfroy-Camine ’17 said.

Fischer plans to present the results of the surveys to the President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability. She thinks this will open the floor to new discussion and consideration regarding the environmental side of transportation to and from the Brandeis campus. The environmental benefits are not far off from the practical ones.

“There seems to be near universal agreement that in addition to helping reduce our carbon footprint, increasing the use of alternate modes of transportation to campus would help decrease parking and traffic congestion on campus,” Fischer wrote in an email to The Hoot.

Fischer cautions, however, that the surveys are not reflective of any current changes or initiatives. Instead, they are a means to analyze the situation in regard to sustainability. She continued, “We just have to figure out the right ways to approach it that would best fit the community.”

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