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UW Commuter Solutions eases commuter headaches

March 2, 2009

UW-Madison Transportation Services has a new name for its time-tested alternative transportation program: UW Commuter Solutions.

The program underscores and adds visibility to the department’s mission to make walking, biking, taking the bus, and van- or carpooling an attractive option for everyone at the university.

The name is also apt at a time when the economy and environment are facing major challenges. Reducing the number of single-occupant vehicles that travel to campus reduces congestion and pollution, eases demand for the limited number of parking stalls on campus, and saves money for individuals and the university.

“For each individual parking stall that we have to build or replace, we spend from $20,000 to $60,000, not including financing costs. When demand for these parking stalls is reduced, we save a lot of money,” explains Gordon Graham, transportation administrator.

There are many options when it comes to commuting to campus. To help get the word out, the department has developed a new Web site, launched an e-newsletter and implemented an outreach program that offers personalized transportation consulting for those who are interested.

A primary goal is increasing awareness, both of the benefits of alternative transportation and the options themselves. The unit responsible for providing and supporting alternative transportation was known as the “Transportation Demand Management” unit, a name recognized by industry peers, but not by campus commuters.

Transportation Services reviewed similar units at other universities and conducted surveys and convened focus groups among a cross section of the university community. They learned that people want a name that is clear, practical and inclusive.

“We believe that UW Commuter Solutions is a name that stays true to what we do: provide solutions for all kinds of commuters — those coming from a quarter-mile away as well as those who travel from other counties. It is our goal to make it possible for everyone to choose an alternative to driving alone, with the key word being ‘choose,'” says Molly Coughlin, marketing specialist for Transportation Services.

A key strength of UW Commuter Solutions is flexibility. While some campuses offer great biking programs or have excellent public transit, Transportation Services’ comprehensive mix of commuter solutions includes walking, biking, transit, carpools, vanpools and important supporting services such as flex parking, car sharing and Emergency Ride Home.

For some, leaving their car at home is a daunting proposition; however, commuters who choose to make the leap, even part-time, are rewarded. Alternative commuters save money, reduce their stress levels, increase their fitness, gain useful time, reduce congestion and pollution on campus, and, ultimately, make it possible for the university to use its limited land for work and study, rather than for parking lots.

Transportation Services urges anyone who is interested in their alternative transportation options — including those who have doubts — to talk to a UW Commuter Solutions expert. The department offers route-planning assistance, pedestrian and bicycling tips, car and vanpool matching services, and much more.

Complete personalized commuter solutions can be requested online.