News Release

New Report: University Campuses, Like UConn, Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

For Immediate Release

Storrs, February 11th – As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, universities are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy, according to a new report released today. The report, titled, “A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy,” was released by ConnPIRG Education Fund.

“Across America, colleges and universities are showing that efforts to meet increased demand for transportation options deliver powerful benefits for their community and surrounding areas,” said Sean Doyle at ConnPIRG Education Fund. “These efforts are saving money for universities, and improving the quality of life on campus.”

Americans aged 16 to 34 years of age reduced their annual driving miles by 23 percent per person between 2001 and 2009, according to research based on the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration that is included in the study.

At UConn, the administration has worked in recent years to promote walking and biking instead of driving.  According to the Manager of UConn Transportation Services, Janet Freniere, “UConn is committed to making all of our campuses greener and more energy efficient in many ways including the implementation of bicycle and car sharing programs, more effective/passenger-friendly shuttle bus routes, making central areas of campus more pedestrian-friendly, and replacing many of the fleet vehicles with much more environmentally-friendly GEM and C-Max cars.”

As Baby Boomers grow older, Millennials have become America’s largest generation.  Since government investments in transportation infrastructure often last decades, the question of whether current investment will match the needs of future travelers depends largely on how well Millennials’ preferences will be met.

“University and college campuses are at the forefront of encouraging news ways to get around that don’t depend on personal cars. Public officials who want to stay ahead of the curve should be taking notes,” said Doyle. 

The report describes how universities are improving their communities by providing a wider range of transportation choices. This includes buses, biking, various types of vehicle-sharing that makes it easier not to have a personal car, and convenient apps that make it easier to navigate the options. The report also documents how campuses seek to avoid the steep costs of building additional parking facilities. 

Recently UConn and the Town of Mansfield were able to work collaboratively on the Nash-Zimmer Transportation Center in the new Storrs Center – where regional and local bus options will be centrally available and biking facilities will encourage travel to the center through alternative modes.

“Universities have a lot in common with cities,” added Doyle. “They must get the most value out of limited land, they are acutely aware of problems associated with being overrun by cars; and they need to focus on the tastes and aspirations of young people. It’s no wonder that universities are leaders in finding successful ways to make it easier for people to drive less.”

You can download the report, “New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy,” here.

The report is the sixth in a series of studies on the national shift away from driving. The first report, Transportation and the New Generation, documents the dramatic decline of driving among Millennials. The second, A New Direction, examines the causes of declining driving and the implications for future transportation policy. The third, Moving Off the Road, documents state-by-state differences in declining driving, and shows how these differences do not correspond to how hard states were hit by the recession. The fourth, A New Way to Go, explores how new technologies and changing technological habits among Millennials are connected to the nation’s decline in driving and can encourage less car-dependent lifestyles in the future. The firth report, Transportation in Transition, released in early December, examines the data on declining driving and increasing transit and biking in America’s 100 largest cities.

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