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New working group focuses on transportation needs

Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 02:02

cars

Caroline Geiling / The Tufts Daily

A Transportation Working Group was formed at Tufts last semester to assess and ensure the efficiency of transportation on the university’s three campuses.

“A variety of groups were interested in aspects of ground transportation related to Tufts’ three Massachusetts campuses,” Tina Woolston, the Program Director for the Office of Sustainability, said. “The Transportation Working Group will ensure that changes proposed or initiated by various entities at Tufts are examined and coordinated in a cohesive manner and comprehensively work together to create safer, healthier and more beautiful campuses.”

The working group is broken into two subgroups, each composed of faculty members from the Dean of Student Affairs office, Office for Campus Life, Athletics Department, Facilities Services, Office of Sustainability, Office of Community Relations, the Operations Division, the Purchasing Office and Department of Public and Environmental Safety, Kevin Maguire, the director of Public and Environmental Safety, told the Daily in an email. One subgroup will address fleet management and student drivers while the other will focus on transportation demand management (TDM). 

Developing a plan for university vehicles, the fleet management working group aims to reduce risk with new policies for using university vehicles, Maguire said. The other subgroup, TDM, will work toward improving safety and decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases released from university-related transportation, according to Woolston

In October, a random survey was sent out to non-residential students, faculty and staff to gather a wide spectrum of information about the community’s transportation habits, Woolston said. 

“We asked people stuff like, ‘Would it be helpful to you as a biker if we had an on-campus free tool station where you could fix your bike?’” Woolston said. “It should be really useful because it lets us know where are the gaps in knowledge, it lets us know what people are likely to use, it lets us know what kind of feedback to give to the T, stuff like that.”

Maguire said that the both the TDM and Fleet Management groups are in the process of hiring consultants.

“These are large projects which will ultimately benefit significantly from having an independent, third party assessment completed, along with recommendations for improvement that will be based on best practices in the transportation industry,” he said.

The TDM group has brought together people from different university sectors to assemble institutional knowledge from within Tufts, according to TDM group member Kristine Kenney. She serves as the graduate student voice and Tufts Community Union (TCU) President Joe Thibodeau will provide undergraduate perspective.

“The working group is more of the institutional knowledge — what does Tufts have, what does Tufts need, that sort of thing,” Kenney said. “The consultant will be doing more of the actual studies and the actual planning for this TDM report.”

Kenney said her role as the only graduate student in the TDM group, and as someone with TDM experience, is to keep everyone focused on TDM in particular. 

Maguire said that the Fleet Management group is anticipating the completion of its assessment work by June and that implementation is expected to be completed by Sept. 1. Before that, at least three companies will need to return proposals and quotes, so that Tufts can select who to hire, Woolston said. 

“The project will evaluate and recommend a wide range of initiatives that would provide transportation choices that result in a shift of travel behavior from single occupancy automobile dependency toward more sustainable modes such as avoided travel, shared vehicles, public transit, walking and cycling,” Woolston said.

The Fleet Management and TDM groups ultimately have a lot of overlap in their goals and the groups are communicating as they hire consultants, Woolston said. 

“They’re related because the need for Tufts to have its own cars or a third party to come in with cars, is going to depend on whether or not people need it,” she said. “And if there [are] alternatives, then there may be less of a need. So there’s a very close intersection there.”

Woolston said that once the consultants submit their reports, another process will begin to implement the recommended improvements. 

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