UMD beats Mason in month long Commuter Challenge

The University of Maryland topped Mason in all four categories in the 2010 Commuter Challenge (photo taken from website) 

Mason fell short to UMD by a wide margin in the 2010 Commuter Challenge, facilitated by Parking and Transportation Services. Oct. 22 marked the conclusion of the month long competition to track alternative transportation initiatives on the respective university campuses.

The contest pitted the two universities against one another, determining rankings in four categories: number of trips saved, the most carbon dioxide reduced, and the most new Zimride users. According to Josh Cantor, Mason’s Director of Parking and Transportation, the University of Maryland swept all four categories.

UMD had a total of 590 people register as Zimride users, compared to 186 for Mason. Of those who registered, UMD had 158 participating users, also greater than Mason’s total of 41. Mason saved 378 trips, fewer than UMD’s 1,625. Additionally, UMD saved more 19,876 pounds of total carbon dioxide emissions, considerably greater than 8,642 pounds for Mason. However, proportionally, Mason saved more pounds of CO2 per individual participant, said Cantor.

Both universities believe a majority of the participants in the program were faculty and staff. “There is more of an established base of faculty and staff who do use alternative transportation,” said Cantor. “We know many students use the Metro, take the shuttles, and bike and walk, but it's not in a formalized program yet as it will be as our programs grow.”

Beverly Malone, UMD’s Department of Transportation Services Assistant Director, was quoted by the DiamondbackOnline as saying, “Maybe people would be more willing to participate if we competed against Duke.”

According to Cantor, Mason hopes to include other regional universities in the challenge next spring. He continued by mentioning plans to fill a transportation coordinator position, which has been vacant this fall. “With more staff resources, we will be able to market much more,” Cantor said. “Better marketing of the prizes we gave away will also help since we know those type of incentives get people’s attention.”

Cantor doesn't consider the win for UMD a defeat for Mason. “There really isn't a loser as everything we did and everyone that participated helped to promote alternatives to driving alone, which supports the University's sustainability and transportation goals as well as reducing parking demand,” he said. “Our programs continue to grow, with things such as student carpools and expanded shuttle operations in our future.”


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