• Environmental Health and Safety Director Bill Van Schalkwyk, left, celebrates with Simcha Singer, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, who won the 2004 transportation survey grand prize, a Giant Rincon mountain bike.

    Environmental Health and Safety Director Bill Van Schalkwyk, left, celebrates with Simcha Singer, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, who won the 2004 transportation survey grand prize, a Giant Rincon mountain bike.

    Photo / Hao Nguyen

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Commuter survey rewards participants and the planet

Environmental Health and Safety Director Bill Van Schalkwyk, left, celebrates with Simcha Singer, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, who won the 2004 transportation survey grand prize, a Giant Rincon mountain bike.


On Oct. 23, all members of the MIT community were invited to complete a transportation survey that could not only help save the planet but also, thanks to a lottery among participants, bestow prizes. In 2004, Simcha Singer, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, won the 2004 transportation survey grand prize, a Giant Rincon mountain bike.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requires colleges and universities with 1,000 or more students and employees to comply with the air pollution control regulations that call for a reduction of single-occupant vehicle trips to and from campus. Carbon dioxide, one of the pollutants emitted by gasoline-powered cars, is a greenhouse gas associated with climate change. The City of Cambridge has adopted a Climate Protection Plan calling for a reduction in greenhouse gases to a level 20 percent below the 1990 level.

MIT is trying to do its part. The Institute already provides subsidized monthly MBTA passes to all eligible commuters and actively encourages students and employees who commute to campus to form car- and vanpools by providing them with reserved and subsidized parking.

MIT's Parking and Transportation Office also operates several campus shuttles that are available to the MIT community as an alternate transportation mode. MIT is also a major participant in a rush-hour shuttle service called EZRide that links North Station and Kendall Square, which is free with an MIT ID card (the regular adult fare is $1) subsidized by the Institute.

In order to further reduce the single-occupant commutes to campus for people who might use their cars during the workday, MIT currently hosts seven Zipcars on campus that offer hourly car rentals. MIT sponsors Zipcar membership for faculty, staff and graduate students.

There are also more than 1,000 bicycle parking spaces on campus, including several secure indoor bike rooms, and shower facilities, to encourage students, faculty and staff wanting to cycle.

The last transportation survey was done in October of 2004. The results showed that:

  • 15 percent of the respondents walked to MIT;
  • 35 percent took public transportation;
  • 12 percent bicycled;
  • 6 percent rode a car- or vanpool; and
  • 25 percent of the respondents drove to MIT alone.

When respondents were asked the most important reason why they took public transportation, more than half of them said it was for convenience. Fifteen percent of the respondents cited cost.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 25, 2006 (download PDF).


Topics: Campus services

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