UW News

October 9, 2008

Transportation survey under way

Work has begun on the University’s biennial transportation survey that measures the commuting patterns of people on campus and monitors the effectiveness of the U-PASS program.

The survey will begin on Monday, Oct. 13, and is being fielded on behalf of the University by Opinion Research Northwest, an independent marketing research contractor. It should be completed by late November. The small sample of students, faculty and staff who were randomly selected for the survey will first be sent an e-mail invitation to complete the survey online. Participants who do not respond to the online survey, or who do not have access to a computer at work, will be called and the survey will be completed by telephone.

The survey takes between 10 and 12 minutes to complete, and a high response rate is crucial to the study’s validity. Participants are asked to reschedule if the researcher calls at an inconvenient time.

The survey is a legal requirement of the state’s Commute Trip Reduction Law, and a minimum response rate of 70 percent is required by the state.

In addition to meeting state requirements, the survey is used to better understand the commuting needs of the University, and to evaluate transportation services. It helps the University measure the effectiveness of its Transportation Management Plan.

The most important component of those services is the U-PASS program, which allows faculty and staff to use King County Metro, Community Transit and Sound Transit services anytime, anywhere. The U-PASS costs $70 per quarter ($50 per quarter for students). In addition to unlimited transit services, the U-PASS provides discounted parking on campus for both carpools and people who occasionally drive their personal vehicles, a subsidy on the cost of vanpooling, discounts with local merchants, taxi rides in the event of an emergency, Zipcar discounts, free rides on the Night Ride shuttle and a variety of other programs.

The survey has been conducted every two years since 1992. Results from each survey are compared to previous years to determine how commuting patterns have changed over time. Many new transportation programs, such as the Pay Per Use Parking program in the West Campus Garage, were developed as a result of information provided by respondents through the survey.

Questions and concerns about the survey can be e-mailed to Celeste Gilman, Transportation Systems Manager, at cgilman@u.washington.edu.