Students Commute with Smart Trips

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What you may not know about Smart Trips is that the program also applies to college and university students.

We know that for many full-time students, school is their job, and we want to make sure they’re getting credit for their green commutes and making great habits in the process. While Smart Trips works in an eight county region, our student participation mostly comes from the University of Tennessee, Pellissippi State Community College, and Maryville College. Each of the schools has its own identity, which helps shape the way its students and staff interact with Smart Trips.

University of Tennessee

UT is the largest of the three, both in terms of campus size and student population. It’s no secret to anyone who lives in Knoxville that parking at UT is an ongoing issue. Earlier this year, UT’s Parking & Transit Services announced that there aren’t enough parking spots for every student. In 2015, UT sold 10,661 parking passes for only 6,518 parking spots. Because of this, many students need to make alternative commutes to school to save time finding a parking spot and walking from a garage to their classes. UT is serviced by Knoxville Area Transit, and students are encouraged to park off campus and ride the bus to Cumberland Avenue. For those who are close enough, biking is another great alternative. UT has a large campus and having a bike on hand allows them to get from one location to the next quickly.

UT and Pellissippi have also recently started the Bridge program, in which students spend their freshman year enrolled at PSCC and transition to UT for their sophomore year and beyond. While taking classes at Pellissippi, Bridge students still live on UT’s campus. With the commute from one campus to the other, students are encouraged to use KAT. While the Cumberland Corridor construction project is under way, all those boarding a KAT bus along Cumberland Avenue are fare free. KAT not only has multiple stops on UT’s campus, but it also has a stop in front of both the Magnolia and Division Street campuses, making this option especially tempting to students in the program.

Pellissippi State Community College

Pellissippi’s four campuses are all unique, and the participation we see at each of them is different. Because none of the campuses are residential, all faculty, staff, and students have to get themselves there every day. In Blount County, a largely rural area, carpooling is the most popular choice. The same is true at the Hardin Valley campus, the largest of all four campuses. At the Magnolia Avenue and Division Street campuses, however, there are a much higher number of transit users, walkers, and bikers. Because there are bus stops directly in front of both locations, many students take advantage of KAT. We also see a greater number of commuters biking and walking due to their convenient locations, bike stations and racks.

Maryville College

Also located in Blount County, Maryville College is at an advantage because so many students live either on campus or very nearby. There are also faculty and staff who live in the neighboring historic district and are able to walk or bike to work. A student completing her senior study project found that many students and staff members utilize the greenway system to get to work or school. While alternative commutes are easy for many traveling to campus, MC’s strongest tie to Smart Trips is the school’s commitment to sustainability. The school’s Sustainability Plan outlines challenges and objectives to make campus, students and their impact more sustainable. Within the plan, transportation and travel are specifically outlined, and their goals are well matched with Smart Trips.