More employees using pedal power and train travel to get to the Farm

Annual survey shows more employees are biking and riding the rails to work.


Parking and Transportation Services poster

Poster for Parking and Transportation Services' campaign to encourage the Stanford community to use alternatives to driving solo to campus.

More than half of Stanford employees on the main campus walked, rode bicycles, shared rides or boarded buses or trains to get to work in 2010, according to a recent survey by the Parking and Transportation Services department.

"Reaching the point where more than half of the university's commuting employees chose alternative transportation instead of driving alone is a major milestone for Stanford," said Brodie Hamilton, the department's director.

The data showed that 52 percent of employee commuters chose alternative transportation in 2010, compared with just 28 percent eight years ago, he said.

Hamilton said the data showed a rise in the percentage of commuters taking Caltrain and bicycling to work since 2002, the year Stanford began implementing new programs designed to entice faculty and staff to leave their cars at home.

This year, 19 percent of university employee commuters took Caltrain to work, compared with 4 percent in 2002, the survey showed. Thirteen percent bicycled to the Farm in 2010, compared with 7 percent in 2002.

"The shift to Caltrain can be attributed, in part, to the free transit pass program, and the shift to biking may be due to improved bicycling facilities and enhanced bike programs, as reflected by Stanford's Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists," Hamilton said.

"We attribute the overall increase in alternative transportation to several factors, including economic, both savings and incentives; convenience, such as Zipcar at Stanford; and the Stanford community's commitment to health and sustainability."

Since the fall of 2002, Stanford has provided transit passes that allow eligible employees unlimited free travel on Caltrain, and free rides on buses, express buses and light rail operated by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory staff and university employees working less than 20 hours per week are not eligible for free transit passes. Employees who live within the 94304, 94305 and 94309 ZIP codes also are not eligible.)

In response to the question, "How do you usually commute to Stanford," the data showed that less than half of Stanford's commuting employees – 48 percent – drove to work alone, compared with 72 percent in 2002.

"To put our current 48 percent drive-alone rate in context, the County of Santa Clara drive-alone rate for employee commuters is 78 percent, based on 2007 U.S. Census data," Hamilton said.

After solo drivers, train travelers and bike riders, the next largest commuter groups in 2010 were Stanford carpools (10 percent), bus/shuttle passengers (6 percent) and walkers (2.6 percent).

The data are based on responses from about 5,400 university employees working on the main campus. (The data excluded hospital employees and people working at off-campus sites, because most of the university's transportation programs do not apply at those sites.)

The data were culled from the responses of 12,300 people who took the March survey, which polled university employees, hospital employees, undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars about their commuting habits.