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Spring 2007 Transportation Survey Summary

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 24, 2007

The most recent survey of UNH transportation reveals significant progress has been made since 2001; students, faculty and staff have expressed overall satisfaction with current services and a willingness to support continued improvements.

This spring, telephone and e-mail surveys were conducted by the UNH Survey Center and the Campus Planning Office on behalf of the University Transportation Policy Committee. The findings will assist the committee in making recommendations regarding further changes and improvements in the same way a 2001 evaluation did.

The 2007 telephone survey, conducted by the survey center, randomly polled more than 400 faculty and staff members. That was followed by Campus Planning’s Web survey which included many aspects of the phone poll but allowed for full community participation.

Publicized in the Campus Journal, on Blackboard and through e-mails to the faculty senate and the PAT and OS Councils, the Web survey resulted in more than 1,200 interviews from a wide cross section of students—who weren’t included in the phone surveys--faculty and staff.

This year’s surveys repeated key questions from 2001 so comparisons in attitudes over time could be made. The 2007 poll went beyond the focus of the last one, which concentrated primarily on parking issues and commuting habits.

The Web-based survey, posted on SurveyMonkey.com between April 20 and May 10, represents the largest sample of transportation opinions collected at UNH to date. A summary of the findings follows.

Not surprisingly, students use the Campus Connector shuttle buses more frequently than faculty or staff, with the exception the Mast Road (excluding Gables use for A-lot access) and the West Edge Express. Satisfaction is generally high except that community members feel connector buses are not meeting advertised frequencies.

To counter the problem, the policy committee is looking at options that might include schedule alterations, higher frequencies, continued traffic flow improvements and/or investing in technologies that would provide real time status information to waiting passengers.

Those surveyed expressed a general feeling that some runs are underutilized and that resources might better serve other routes. Woodsides and the dining shuttles were seen as lower priorities.

One surprisingly positive finding indicates that for students living off-campus, Wildcat Transit routes are a significant factor in deciding where they will live. More than 50 percent of those in non-campus housing live within walking distance of a Wildcat bus stop.

While many believe the level and quality of the university transit service is very good, there is still an interest in adding more frequent bus service with more runs and more stops.

Students are far more likely to carpool; only half of those living off-campus drive their own vehicles compared with the majority of the faculty and staff. The student number is down from 93 percent of those surveyed in 2001. Today, students are much more likely to carpool, take Wildcat Transit, or walk.

While solo travel among students is down, the amount of time they spend on campus has increased two-fold. Survey responses indicate more student visits for shorter periods of time, underscoring the need for increased short-term parking access and/or improved transit access and intra-campus mobility.

Another surprising point of the 2007 survey is that nearly half of those who do commute to campus—faculty, staff and students—move their vehicles at some point during the day prior to going home; this is up from the 2001 survey. Reasons for doing so include going to lunch, running errands, and having to make job-related trips such as going to meetings or to remote areas of campus.

Respondents also note that if they do give up a core-area parking spot, they typically spend time circling campus before finding a new one. The transportation committee is looking at strategies to expand a park-once concept based on connectivity provided by the Campus Connector. Reducing private vehicle circling will reduce energy consumption, save wasted time and reduce emissions.

The committee also is looking at other strategies to provide intra-campus mobility for people and packages with the Cat Courier, increased promotion of Campus Connector routes or policies that make moving from one parking spot on campus to another less attractive.

The most important overall finding of both surveys was support for a continuation of the system improvements made during the past five years. A majority of all groups prefers some level of fee increase to a reduction in transportation services.

A summary of the survey and other information on the Transportation Policy Committee can be found a www.unh.edu/transportation/tpc.

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