University of Richmond Transportation Services received an award from the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) this month for its sustainable transportation initiative.

Over the past several years, the University's Transportation Services has focused on increasing connectivity between students and the city of Richmond while also promoting sustainability throughout campus. Measures to limit the University’s transportation carbon footprint have focused on limiting the number of cars people drive by promoting buses and shuttles, as well as encouraging students to use methods other than driving to get around on campus.

“The office is really pleased about the nomination and the award,” Natalia Green, director of Parking Services, said. “It shows other colleges and universities that we’re doing a little bit more here.”

Transportation services include shuttles such as the Daily Connector and UR Downtown, ZipCar and GRTC bus passes, for which the university pays. To get around on campus, the Campus Loop runs every night, and the Bike Share Program, with Green Bikes that can be spotted by their bright yellow color at various locations. The Bike Share Program began in 2009 as a way to lessen campus vehicle traffic.

Since 2011, Transportation Services has had a 77 percent increase in general ridership and, in the past year, a 32 percent increase in bike registrations, according to University Communications.

As part of the GRTC transit system and a partner to the university, RideFinders nominated Transportation Services for the award. RideFinders is a regional ride-share program that offers a variety of services such as carpool matching, transit information and an emergency ride home program.

One of the initiatives Transportation Services has pushed in the last few years is ZipCars, which are still a relatively new addition to campus transportation having been on campus for less than five years.

“We have five ZipCars in two locations on campus," Green said. "Having five cars is pretty high for schools this size. Each year, we’ve earned a car. We started out with two and you gain more cars based on how many students are registered members of ZipCar and how often students use them.”

In addition to ZipCars, shuttles take students around Richmond each day. The university also offers monthly shuttles to transport people to unique events.

“We have a transportation focus group that we put together last year as a way to ask students what they want from transportation,” Green said. “Students told us they wanted to get off campus so we try to do a shuttle somewhere different each month.”

Recent places shuttles have taken students include the Virginia State Fair and the Richmond Folk Festival, which occurred earlier this fall. Last spring, Transportation Services sponsored a shuttle to Washington, D.C., to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival. On Oct. 29 a shuttle will go to Creepy Hollow Scream Park. 

Shuttles to these events have attracted students who have their own cars on campus, such as freshman Harris Cannon.

“I would use campus transportation if there is an event with limited parking like the Folk Festival over fall break, or if a large group of my friends wanted to ride together,” Cannon said. Though he says he likes the freedom that comes with owning a car, sometimes using Transportation Services is more convenient.

Contact reporter Stacey Dec at stacey.dec@richmond.edu