Oregon State University has set a goal of reducing the number of times its students and employees drive to campus alone.
The school wants the rate of solo commuting to drop by a third by the year 2030. The university will use a variety of strategies to achieve that goal, including investments in bike paths, incentives for carpooling, and working with the city of Corvallis to improve transit options.
OSU’s Transportation Services director Meredith Williams said being successful won’t just mean fewer carbon emissions. It would also save the university from having to upgrade and expand its parking lots and garages.
"Rather than spend resources on that, we would prefer to spend resources on sustainable transportation infrastructure and programs that can benefit not only OSU but the whole Corvallis community,” she said.
Williams says even after the pandemic, the university will also reduce trips by allowing workers to telecommute as much as possible.
Those who do still drive to campus will likely encounter a new parking permit system. Currently, OSU offers annual parking permits along with daily permits. Those annual permits will potentially disappear in the coming years.
The idea is to reward drivers who--for example--ride their bikes to work on nice days. If they have an annual permit, there's no financial incentive to leave their car at home. The more they drive, the cheaper it is to park on any given day.
Switching to a daily permit will likely cost more for drivers who still commute in their car each day. But Williams said it's not meant to be punitive. "We're hoping to be able to offer enough positive alternatives to encourage people to take other modes when they can," she said.
Williams said the university will work with the City of Corvallis to implement some of the strategies, such as improving transit connections and building more bike lanes in neighborhoods surrounding the campus.