Emory Report
April 16, 2007
Volume 59, Number 27

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April 16, 2007
Shifting patterns emerge in Emory commuter transportation

by david payne

Emory’s Parking and Transportation Office is reporting new figures that demonstrate the University’s shifting patterns in commuter transportation. The data, which tracked Emory University faculty and staff only, shows a decrease in the number of annual parking permits issued as measured in September 2006 compared to March 2007.

In March, 5,184 permits were issued, a decrease of 1,312 permits from last September (6,496 permits). The decrease of approximately 20 percent follows closely on the heels of an increase in parking rates on campus, as well as a period of expansion of Emory-sponsored transportation programs, such as an expanded Park-n-Ride shuttle system, transit passes, Flexcar, carpools and vanpools, among others.

According to the parking and transportation figures, the three Park-n-Ride shuttle stops at North DeKalb, Northlake and South DeKalb malls are averaging 475 riders daily, including those riders who park at the lots, walk to or are dropped off at the shuttle stops. All three Park-n-Ride shuttle routes began service within the past year.

“I’m very excited about these dramatic figures,” said Laura Ray, associate vice president for transportation and parking. “We are making progress in shifting commuter transportation travel, and we will continue to make our transportation programs more enticing to the Emory community. This decrease in the number of parking permits issued is the equivalent of approximately one-half of the Peavine parking deck.”

Emory’s two-person carpool program saw a modest increase of four participants since September, to 440 participants in March. Previously, those in the two-person program were eligible to park in designated parking spaces around campus. That benefit ended this year, and the price for a two-person permit rose by $200 annually.

The three-person carpool program enjoyed large increases in participants, as the benefits associated with it grew. Three-person carpool permits, which cost nothing, continue to have designated, convenient spots on campus. The number of people participating in this program rose sharply over the past few months: 36 participants in three-person carpools in September, and 270 participants registered in March.

Emory’s vanpool program, which is a part of the larger vanpool program offered by the Clifton Corridor Transit Association, increased the number of vanpools from 54 to 71 since September. These figures are aggregated and include vanpools that serve Emory University, Emory Healthcare, the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, among others.

Among the other transportation programs that surged in participation was the free transit pass program. It rose by 129 people from 812 in September to 941 in March. Under this program, Emory provides free transit passes on MARTA and various commuter bus networks run by Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties, as well as by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Ashley Floyd, director of capital and administrative budgeting in the controller’s office, is a recent convert to Emory’s free transit pass program. After giving up her parking pass, she’s saving approximately $1,500 a year on parking and gas with a negligible increase to her 20-minute commute.

“I expected to save money with this program, but my biggest surprise was the stress reduction after eliminating driving each day,” said Floyd. “It’s a positive, unexpected benefit of this program.”

Ray added, “The Clean Air Campaign estimates that it costs $1.19 per mile to commute to work, a figure that will increase as gas prices rise. We want people to realize that Emory is providing much cheaper alternatives to get to work.”