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Survey shows most take public transportation to campus

A preliminary analysis of the electronic responses to the recent MIT transportation survey found that 34 percent of respondents walked to MIT at least once during the week of Oct. 7. That same week, 36 percent took some form of public transportation, 17 percent bicycled, 8 percent rode in a carpool and about 25 percent drove alone.

The survey asked commuters to provide information on when and how they came to MIT during the week of Oct. 7, and inquired whether people used services offered at MIT including bike storage, shuttles, T-pass subsidies and hands-free garage access.

The Planning Office administered the last full-scale transportation survey in 1997. The data collected then was used to demonstrate the need for a number of transportation initiatives that are now permanent services in MIT's transportation program. These include the subsidy for public transit passes, the Tech Shuttle, expansion of the SafeRide program, vacation shuttles, hands-free parking access, additional bicycle racks, motorcycle parking and improved parking facilities.

All employees and students, except freshmen who live on campus, were invited to complete the survey by Stephen Immerman, director of Enterprise Services at MIT. Of those 16,000 people, 46 percent (7,578) submitted responses electronically (another 250 submitted paper surveys, which have not yet been analyzed). The response rate varied by group, with 67 percent of administrative staff and 61 percent of support staff participating. The faculty response rate was 32 percent; the student response rate was 46 percent.

When respondents were asked the most important reason why they took public transportation, more than half said it was for convenience. Fourteen percent cited cost. Almost 60 percent of the respondents who did not take public transportation said it was because it took too much time, while 9 percent did not have access to public transportation.


Thirty-five percent of the respondents usually arrive at MIT between 8 and 9 a.m., and 34 percent between 9 and 10 a.m. Sixty percent said they chose that time because of work or class schedules. Twenty-seven percent usually leave campus between 5 and 6 p.m. and 16 percent after 8 p.m. Of the latter group, 83 percent are students, mostly graduate students.

When asked how often they were on campus after 6 p.m., 43 percent said three or more days per week. Fewer than 11 percent said never. More than half the faculty respondents said they were on campus after 6 p.m. three or more days per week.

More than 40 percent of respondents said they buy a public transit pass from MIT. The range of responses varied considerably by affiliation, from a low of 24 percent for faculty to a high of 63 percent for support staff.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they've ridden the EZ-Ride or Tech Shuttle. Only 2 percent have used preferential parking for carpools and vanpools and 5 percent have used a Zipcar. Half the respondents were not aware of the Guaranteed Ride Home program, and 39 percent did not know there was a Caravan ride-matching program.


These results are preliminary. The final report will be weighted to reflect the population at MIT. It will be published in the spring and will be available on the Parking and Transportation web site.

The survey was the result of a collaboration between the Environmental Health and Safety Office, the Department of Facilities, the Parking and Transportation Office, the Office of the Provost and the Center for Transportation Studies and Logistics. It was administered by the Web Survey Service in Information Systems.

Five hundred gift certificates will be awarded by lottery to individuals who submitted a survey form. Anyone who submitted a survey electronically was entered automatically. Those who completed paper surveys will be entered if they either provided their name or if they sent e-mail to when they sent in their survey. Winners will be notified shortly.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 6, 2002.

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