Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New people, new habits?

Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be less traffic on campus? Even at 5 p.m. Granted, there is still plenty, but it seems like a lot less than even 5 years ago.

What has happened in the last 5 years to make traffic noticeably lighter? I'm sure several factors are at play - more expensive parking permits, more expensive gas, free employee bus passes, car pool tags, ZipCars, incentives for employees to exercise more. But I wonder if the most important factor is actually as simple as turnover.

New students, of which there is a new crop every year, this year's being the largest to date in Bloomington, are orientated to use the bus system. Their IDs act as free bus passes on both IU and city buses and they've been using the buses since that started. Lack of parking makes taking the bus a better bet for students. I see a ton of students parking in the White Lot, with more walking from nearby apartments.

But I think employees are starting to use transportation options other than cars. Yes, a lot still drive. But as parking has gotten more expensive and spaces harder to find, I think more employees are finally looking at car pool, bike and bus options. City buses became free for employees with a special, free bus pass in 2006 - the year I left.

It seems like 5 years is about right for a paradigm shift. There are a lot of new employees - faculty and staff. A lot have retired or left. New programs have had time to settle in with early adopters talking about the conveniences.

Add to all that the new premium reduction incentives for health insurance for 2011 and voluntary Get Healthy programs and you have a recipe for this change. The construction on Bypass (and probably also 3rd Street) probably help too. If it isn't convenient to drive, people find other ways.

I don't think I'm imagining things. It really feels like there are fewer cars and less backup when driving through campus.

1 comment:

  1. This year, I've thought that traffic in other parts of town has been worse. Last year, I remembered thinking that even though the students were back, I lived far enough away from campus that the change in traffic wasn't too significant. This year, I have definitely noticed a change. Maybe it's perception and we just got lucky last year, making this year seem worse. I also wonder if more students are staying farther away from campus.

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