Columbia Transportation Survey Results Show Fewer Drive-Alone Commutes, More Walking Commutes

June 04, 2020

Results from Columbia’s most recent Commute and Travel Survey show that between May 2018 and February 2020 fewer Columbia affiliates chose a drive-alone commute and more walked to campus.

Almost 12,000 Columbia affiliates responded to the University-wide survey when it was distributed earlier this spring. Despite coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic in which students, faculty, and non-essential staff were asked to stay at home, the survey asked respondents to answer questions for the period prior to March 1, 2020 so as not to contaminate data.

Columbia uses the information gathered in the survey to track its progress on the transportation goals outlined in its Sustainability Plan, including the University’s mission to reduce the number of car commuters as well as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with travel.

About one-third of GHG emissions in the United States comes from the transportation sector. Because Columbia maintains a compact campus in a vibrant urban setting with easy access to public transit options, walking and utilizing the MTA are popular commute choices, which has kept our transportation footprint minimal in comparison to other Universities. Even still, Columbia strives to lead by example to reduce car-dependency – and the resulting GHG emissions – by implementing strategies and incentives to promote alternative transportation methods.

Columbia continues to help its student, staff, and faculty to make sustainable commute decisions by providing resources for walking, biking, ridesharing, and other alternatives to driving on the Columbia Transportation website.

Reducing the number of cars traveling into and within New York City also contributes to the City’s sustainability goals and the Mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, which focuses on reducing the number of vehicle-related injuries and deaths.

The charts below have been updated with this year’s survey results, showing the progress made since Columbia began collecting commute data in 2004.

Commute Choice Students
Commute Mode Employees