Cal Poly strives to reduce the environmental impact of transportation, both for commuters and for the campus vehicle fleet. In addition, Cal Poly has substantial academic curriculum and research focused on transportation planning, alternative fuels, and advanced vehicle design.
Alternative Transportation Programs
The Poly CAP transportation survey provided rich data to understand faculty, staff, and student commuting behavior. Over 7,200 students currently live on campus and most of the remainder walk, bicycle, or ride the bus to campus. Most faculty and staff however, live in surrounding communities due to the cost of real estate in San Luis Obispo – commuting an average of 17.4 miles each way. Over half, 51% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with Cal Poly campus result from daily commuting. Of these emissions, over 60% come from cars, either driven alone or as a carpool.
As Cal Poly takes steps toward carbon neutrality by 2050, it will be imperative that university prioritize strategies for improved commuting options. With this in mind, Cal Poly Parking and Commuter Services contracted a campus parking study and the Planning Department is finalizing a feasibility study for an on-campus shuttle service. In addition to determining the on campus parking and shuttle needs, Cal Poly continues to see an increase in SLO City bus ridership and will be working to increase accessibility for biking, vanpool, carpool, and other alternative transportation opportunities.
Out of over 4000 campus community members surveyed for the Poly CAP, 15% said they commute to campus via bicycle. Through programs such as National Bike Month in May, Bike to School Day, and Bike to Work day, the Cal Poly Commuter Services Coordinator was able to craft outreach opportunities to encourage and elevate the importance of biking to campus with plans to grow these efforts in the coming year.
Cal Poly currently has ten commuter vans in service taking one hundred and forty seven single-occupant vehicles off the road daily, from Paso Robles to Orcutt. The vanpool program is paid for by riders and subsidized only by the overhead of Commuter Services personnel.
Cal Poly has twelve staff and faculty carpool spaces located throughout campus for registered carpool groups, providing an incentive to those who are willing to organize and register their own personal carpools. On campus there are one hundred and twenty two individual carpoolers registered. To view raw transportation tracking data, download the linked XLS file.
Cal Poly subsidizes the cost of the monthly passes for Regional Transit for the Cal Poly community, selling over 700 monthly passes every year at a discounted rate to Cal Poly members.
SLO City Buses remain free for current students, staff, and faculty subsidized by Cal Poly parking fines. As the campus community grows so does ridership with an approximate 30% increase over the 2015/16 academic year. To view raw transportation tracking data, download the linked XLS file.
Incentives for Alternative Transportation
Working with SLOCOG's Rideshare office, Cal Poly's Commuter Services Coordinator manages the irideshare.org website that matches students and staff interested in carpool groups, tracks modes of travel documented, and provide incentives to staff and faculty who are recording alternative modes of travel to and from campus (vanpool, carpool, bus, walk, bike, run, electric scooter/vehicle).
In 2009, Cal Poly implemented the Zip Car program, allowing faculty, staff and students to participate in a unique car share rental program. For a reasonable fee, users may reserve a vehicle on line for use by the hour or by the day to run errands or take a trip. Zip Car makes it easier for the campus community to utilize public transit as their primary commuting method by providing flexibility for the occasional errand or doctor's appointment. For students living on campus, Zip Car eliminates the need to bring a car to campus. Zip Cars, including hybrid vehicles, are available at two campus locations.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Due to the size and expanse of Cal Poly's 6,000 acre campus, most maintenance functions must use vehicles to be able to provide service to the entire campus. This results in Cal Poly having one of the largest vehicle fleets of any CSU campus. To minimize the cost and environmental impact of this fleet, Cal Poly has made a dramatic shift to the use of alternative fuel vehicles, including rechargeable electric, propane, bi-fuel (gas/propane), gas hybrid, and biodiesel. Of the entire campus fleet, 27% use alternative fuels, with the largest category (25.6%) being rechargeable electric. Within Facilities, 46.7% of vehicles use alternative fuels, again with the largest category (44.7%) being rechargeable electric. By switching to electric vehicles, Cal Poly is able to reduce fuel costs by 83% (including battery replacement) and reduce vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by over 90%.