Campus, News

College campuses cut down on driving, study suggests

While a study released Thursday points out the importance of reducing driving on college campuses across America, students and officials at Boston University said the issue was a minimal concern.

BU spokesman Colin Riley said for students at Boston University, driving is almost unheard of.

“A group looking at Boston University would be impressed with how the majority of students use public transportation,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of bicycle traffic on campus, and in the neighboring areas, so it reflects well on our student body.”

The study, published by Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, highlighted how Boston-area schools such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are helping to cut down on driving.

“Efforts to meet increased demand for transportation options deliver powerful benefits for their community and surrounding areas,” said MASSPIRG staff attorney Kirstie Pecci. “Partnerships like that seen between the cities of Cambridge and Boston, Hubway and local colleges are saving money for universities and improving the quality of life on campus.”

Riley estimated around 200 or fewer students drive and that almost all of them commute to campus.

“[Parking] is really pretty restricted,” he said. “There are a limited amount of spaces. Even our faculty and staff are very good when it comes to using public transportation or alternative means to commute to their jobs. As far as students go, it really is almost negligible.”

MASSPIRG’s study highlighted several methods for reducing student driving, including ride-sharing programs and providing students free access to public transportation.

“Campuses are natural laboratories for innovation,” the study stated. “Across the country, they are proving that fresh thinking can address transportation issues in ways that maximize value for the community.”

Commuting is not a major issue for students living off campus or in South Campus, students said.

“It’s fine commuting to class,” said Olivia Guptill, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior. “If I need to walk, it’s no big deal”

Guptill said she lives in a South Campus apartment.

“Sometimes when it’s really cold, I’m not motivated to go [to class],” Guptill said. “Also, sometimes the sidewalks are really slippery and I fall down. Some of my classes are in West Campus, and the bus doesn’t come down where I live.”

Some students said they see the benefits of having a car and would purchase one if there were more opportunities to park on and around campus.

“As a film and television student, I often have large amounts of equipment to transport to different shooting locations that I cannot bring on to public transportation,” said College of Communication senior Hayley Lukaczyk. “A car would be hugely beneficial.”

Lukaczyk said public transit, when crowded, occasionally hindered her ability to get to class on time

“I had a lot of problems last year riding the 57 bus,” she said. “There were always too many students trying to catch the bus around the same time, and not enough buses to accommodate them along with the regular commuters.”

If BU spent more money on transportation to outlying areas of Boston, it would be easier for students to commute to campus, Lukaczyk said.

“BU students cause a huge burden on those who commute on the B Line and the 57 bus every morning by cramming onto each for short distances,” said Lukaczyk. “A modified BU bus that maybe reaches the Allston area would be incredibly helpful not only to the students, but the T and public bus services as well.”

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