The Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) hosts a public meeting in the Fiesta Room at Student Union Building on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. MRCOG will release findings from a UNM and Central New Mexico Community College transportation study showing that UNM has made notable progress in promoting the use of alternative transportation among students, staff and faculty.

The findings are based on results from Parking and Transportation Services' (PATS) 2010 Commuter Survey conducted in March and other data MRCOG has obtained about transportation mode-usage and infrastructure in the UNM-area.

Clovis Acosta, PATS director, said, "We have made significant progress in reducing automobile trips to and from campus through our alternative transportation programs. Data from 2004 showed that 78 to 79 percent of the UNM population commuted to campus alone in an automobile. Our most recent data from this year shows that the rate of driving alone has decreased to approximately 58 percent with increases in the use of ABQRide, bicycling, carpooling and walking to get to and from campus."

These findings resonate with the 2009 UNM Master Plan Update which focuses on how UNM meets its sustainability goals of reducing its overall carbon footprint and works in collaboration with other governmental entities to develop an integrated transportation network to reduce automobile trips to and from campus.

Mary Kenney, university planning officer, said, "UNM's future expansion responds to and reflects the Albuquerque metro area growth. Issues that surround growth such as increased traffic, parking challenges, and community air-quality are broad in nature and require a collaborative approach for mitigating them. Working with MRCOG, we are well on our way to collectively developing solutions that will move us all towards a more sustainable future."

Forty-two percent of students, staff and faculty are commuting to campus using a mode of transportation other than driving alone in an automobile. PATS staff believe their comprehensive platform of alternative transportation programs has encouraged students, staff, and faculty to consider using other modes of transportation to commute to UNM. The ABQRide Free Bus Pass program, Zipcar, the bicycle locker program, and promotion of alternative transportation on campus at the Transportation Information Center in the SUB are examples of PATS most popular initiatives on campus.

Acosta also believes the presence of frequent transit service has greatly enhanced the alternative transportation experience for the UNM community.

"UNM is served by eight major ABQRide routes, including all of the Rapid Ride routes. For individuals who live in proximity to these services, using alternative transportation on a regular basis to come to UNM is feasible. Our data shows that those who do live in proximity to frequent transit service or in proximity to campus where they can walk or bicycle are significantly more likely to use alternative transportation," Acosta said.

Acosta adds that while UNM's alternative transportation usage is notable, a majority of UNM students, staff and faculty live more than four miles from campus and not within convenient access to good transit service.

"UNM is a major destination for students, staff, and faculty who live in this entire region, which is known for its commercial and residential sprawl. For this reason, despite gains in alternative transportation usage, driving alone remains the most popular form of transportation to UNM largely because most of the UNM community does not have access to practical alternatives," Acosta said.  "Our continued collaboration in region-wide strategic transportation planning is critical to ensuring students, staff, faculty, and visitors can access this campus and advancing usage of alternative transportation," he added.

"I am looking forward to hearing comments from our UNM community,"Kenney said. "I believe that this will form the basis for our future direction in developing alternative and easy transit to and from campus, work, and home."

Media Contact: Benson Hendrix, (505) 277-1816; e-mail: bhendrix@unm.edu