Destination Dalhousie

- April 22, 2009

Mark Lewis and Jessica Babineau studied the travel habits of faculty, staff and students to and from Dalhousie. (Danny Abriel Photo)

Do you know if people in your neighbourhood carpool to Dalhousie? Did you know there's a shuttle bus that goes between campuses?

“The greatest recommendation which can be made is an increase awareness, education and promotion of transportation programs and incentives at Dalhousie,” says Gabryel Joseph, one of four masters students who studied how students, staff and faculty get around in a report for the Office of Sustainability. "It's important for faculty, staff and students to be made aware of the options for the sake of sustainable transportation."

Prabhjit K. Banga, Jessica Babineau, Mark Lewis and Gabryel Joseph, masters students with the Faculty of Management, have been working in conjunction with Rochelle Owen, director of the Office of Sustainability, to identify travel trends of faculty, staff and students and develop recommendations regarding how Dalhousie can move forward with alternative transportation programs. This is the first comprehensive survey to track transportation trends and correlate greenhouse gas emissions in an Atlantic university operation.

In addition to education and awareness, the group recommends other actions, including the development of an employee bus pass, travel avoidance programs such as teleworking and compressed work weeks, hybrid vehicles in university fleets, the creation and promotion of safe cycling storage and changing facilities, and enhanced promotion related to formal carpooling and car sharing programs.

With nearly 60 per cent of faculty and staff, 44 per cent of students driving to Dalhousie, these recommendations can hopefully lead to an increase in the use of sustainable transportation methods and cut down on the demand for parking.

As one of the largest commuter destinations in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Dalhousie has the potential to greatly contribute to the success of transportation and demand management initiatives in the region, thus the successful implementation of recommendations like these can affect the broader community.

The surveys, sent to staff, faculty and students of Dalhousie University via email through February and March of this year provided the researchers with ample information regarding travel patterns, the characteristics of travelers and the factors involved for said demographics. It was also possible to determine the wants and needs of these demographics, for example, 91 per cent of students (and 88 per cent of faculty and staff) respondents believe that better transit service to and from campus would potentially encourage greater transit use, with 90 per cent of students, and 64 per cent of faculty and staff believing that more frequent transit service would further encourage use.

Close to 3,000 people participated in the surveys.

Filling out the surveys gave respondents the chance to win one of two $50 gift certificates from Mountain Equipment Co-op, which were awarded to Shirley Vail and Ava Vila.

Dalhousie is in the beginning stages of creating a new master campus plan for the next 10 to 15 years. Sustainability is one of the most important themes in the campus master plan. The information from this study will be used to help to inform the master campus plan and future projects of the Office of Sustainability.


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