University of Calgary

Cutting carbs

October 15, 2009

Campus cuts commuting carbs

carpoolers
(L-R) Cindy Huyhn, Winny Tang and Jessica Jaithou save on parking, fuel and environmental costs by participating in the U of C’s carpool program.
The University of Calgary’s carpool and carshare programs are driving the move to a more sustainable campus.

Last year, more than 77, 586 metric tonnes of eCO2 emissions were attributed to commutes made to and from campus. That number is being significantly reduced this year by increased participation in campus commuting programs.

“We are seeing a lot of growth and an increase in demand in the programs,” says Susan Austen, director of Parking and Traffic Services and chair of the transportation sustainability portfolio. Since an increase in parking prices on May 1 and more advertising of the programs, there has been up to five times more carpool transactions than this time last year.

The Top of the Lot program encourages carpooling by offering users reduced parking prices and the best spots in lots 10, 11, 32 and the Arts Parkade for cars with three or more people. In September alone there were 1,936 carpool entries, indicating that more than 5,800 faculty, staff and students are stepping up to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We feel more at ease about our carbon footprint when we carpool,” says Nina Tarmohamed, a Faculty of Nursing student and a regular carpooler. Along with friends Kayla Barnachea and Jelain Po, Tarmohamed takes advantage of the Top of the Lot discount and feels more confident about the impact of her personal commute. “The financial factor is huge!” adds Po.  

The carshare program aims to reduce emissions and automobile-related costs by having members share a vehicle provided by the campus to run errands between classes. Although this program is still largely unknown, Parking and Transit Services plans to expand it over the next year to increase services and participation. “[These efforts] would boost the program’s profile on campus and allow us to promote and grow it as needed,” says Austen.

In 2008, the U of C signed the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada, thereby making an institutional commitment to address climate change. The future success of carpool and carshare programs is integral to the U of C’s commitment to neutralize campus greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information on these and other U of C programs that reward or facilitate eco-friendly commuting, visit www.ucalgary.ca/sustainability.

—  Written by Christie McCormick, BA student in English

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