High on hybrids

Discounts, incentives aimed at greening campus parking

TOWSON, Md. (August 14, 2008)—
Managing campus parking is one of TU’s most challenging tasks, but Pam Mooney and her staff are working to make the daily “space race” more equitable and efficient.

Not to mention green.

Mooney, director of Parking and Transportation Services, says her office’s most recent offer—a 50 percent parking discount for hybrid vehicles—elicited cheers from TU-affiliated Prius owners and calls from the media.  

"We’ve been asked why we don’t offer discounts to faculty, staff and students who drive other fuel-efficient vehicles,” she says, “but our policy emphasizes carbon emissions over time—not just gas conservation.”

Thus far about 25 hybrid owners have signed up for the discount, Mooney says, most of them faculty or staff. Applicants must present identification and their vehicle registration, she explains. “The hybrid must be your primary vehicle, registered to you or to someone at your address.”

Although the hybrid discount has generated the most buzz, Mooney says she hopes the rest of TU’s approximately 16,000 drivers will consider modifying their commuting habits. “We’re going to develop strategies aimed at reducing reliance on cars,” she says, adding that Parking and Transportation Services will survey faculty, staff and students this fall to gather information on practices and preferences.       

Sheila Tilghman, the office’s new transportation demand coordinator, is charged with making the most of TU’s parking resources, says Mooney. “She’ll taking a systemic approach, studying alternative modes of transport, incentives and a variety of ways to reduce demand for on-campus parking.

“The more garages we build, the more expensive it’ll be to park on campus,” Mooney adds, noting that garage construction costs $18,000 to $25,000 per space. “To provide a parking space costs between $2,000 and $3,000 per year per person versus $200 to $300 if a person takes the bus instead of driving.”  

One method of separating students from their cars involves expanding TU’s shuttle bus service. Beginning this fall, Parking and Transportation Services buses will serve all of the Kenilworth Avenue apartment complexes, as well as to Donnybrook Apartments and Fairways at Towson. Mooney anticipates further expansion next year to other areas with sizeable TU student populations.

Mooney points to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment as the force behind her office’s efforts to “green” parking and transportation. “In signing it, President Caret placed TU among nearly 850 other institutions that have pledged to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on their campuses.

“There are some green initiatives we could implement quickly—like the hybrid parking discount—and others that will take longer to develop,” says Mooney. “But the important thing is that we’re working aggressively to change the culture and create a more sustainable campus.”

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