Transportation Survey Indicates Big Shift Away From Driving

University of Arkansas community commuting trends from 2014 to 2019.
University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability

University of Arkansas community commuting trends from 2014 to 2019.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the first time in decades it appears that driving to campus has taken a backseat to alternative transportation as drivers are now in the minority among University of Arkansas commuters. A recent transportation survey of more than 1,500 campus affiliates and visitors indicates a strong shift toward walking, biking and transit and away from driving alone.

The survey was conducted by Sightlines, a third-party analytics company contracted by the University of Arkansas. The U of A Office for Sustainability coordinated the survey project as part of the U of A's greenhouse gas emissions tracking. The university's Transit and Parking Office consulted on survey questions related to buses and parking demands. The survey was distributed between May and July of 2019. The questions asked related to transportation habits, opinions about carbon emissions, bike share usage and general satisfaction with transportation options on campus. 

A similar survey conducted by the planning consultant firm Nelson Nygaard in 2014 was published in the 2015 UA Transportation Plan. The 2014 data showed that 51% of off-campus students and 83% of U of A faculty and staff drove alone to get to campus. The 2019 data shows the drive-alone number at 35% for off-campus students and 45% for faculty and staff. Meanwhile, the percentage of commuters using alternatives such as bicycling, walking and transit had a net increase of 34% among faculty and staff and a 16% increase among off-campus students in the 5-year period.

The survey questions related to satisfaction among different transportation modes showed that those who walk and ride bikes were the most satisfied while those who drive alone to campus were, on average, least satisfied with their commute.

"These trends are welcome news for many of us who have worked to make the UA campus more accessible by alternative means of transportation," said Eric Boles, director of the U of A Office for Sustainability. "Buses, bicycles, apartment shuttles and walking are all more efficient than driving alone and parking remotely. Most campus affiliates live within biking or walking distance of campus and due to the congestion around campus it's often faster to walk or ride a bike." 

For now, driving remains an important component in the U of A transportation system. But if the trends indicated in the survey continue — driving alone to the UA campus may soon be a thing of the past.

The full survey report is available on the UA Office for Sustainability website at University of Arkansans 2019 Transportation Survey.

The mission of the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability is to motivate, facilitate, and coordinate responsible practices through partnerships with students, faculty, and staff across all campus departments. The office uses the campus as a living laboratory by overseeing the implementation of the University of Arkansas environmental goals. These programs are part of the UA Resiliency Center, hosted by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, and are supported by UA Facilities Management.


Eric C. Boles, director
Office for Sustainability


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