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Commuting and Transportation

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Vanderbilt has a campus community of 35,000, making us larger than many towns in Tennessee.  We have 23,000 staff and faculty that commute to work each day, the average roundtrip commute amounting to 48 miles.  The impact our commuters have on the air quality in Middle TN is substantial, not to mention the parking situation on campus, and how congested the Vanderbilt area has become in recent years.  Many employees are frustrated by traffic when they arrive at work each day, and recent inflations in gas prices have a direct financial impact on those that drive to campus.  The cost to create and maintain parking on campus is also significant!

Encourage students, faculty and staff in your department or office to think about how they travel to and from campus and look for ways to walk, bike, carpool, vanpool or take mass transit.  Taking advantage of commuter benefits not only improves the environment, but usually improves the standard of living of the commuter and saves significant amounts of money.  Visit the SustainVU Alternative Transportation and Commuter Choice Programs page for more details concerning the programs described below.  Some specific ways that you could encourage your school or departmental members to improve their commute are:

  • If possible, ride a bike or walk to campus to reduce emissions entirely and exercise at the same time.  This includes going to and from lunch, or meetings on campus.
  • Take low-cost public transportation.
    • Vanderbilt offers all faculty, staff and graduate students the MTA “Free Ride to Work Program” where Vanderbilt will pay the bus fare for any Vanderbilt employee or graduate student.  Just swipe your ID badge when you board the bus.  All bus transfers are free as well.  The average MTA Nashville bus has 40 seats, which means the potential for 40 less cars on the road with each full bus.
    • Vanderbilt also significantly subsidizes the fare for the Music City Star Commuter Train and Regional/Inter-City Bus Service through RTA.

    If you live outside the city or cannot take public transportation, consider carpooling or vanpooling. Vanderbilt has invested in its own ride match software system, which facilitates the identification of potential carpool and vanpool partners in the Vanderbilt community (anyone with a Vanderbilt email address).  This program matches people from similar general locations who wish to share a ride to Vanderbilt.

  • Sign-up for one of Vanderbilt’s car sharing programs: Zipcar or WeCar.  This is a great option for commuters who do not drive to work but who have engagements off-campus during the workday.
  • If you must drive, make sure car tires are properly inflated for improved gas mileage.

Consider taking advantage of the VU telecommuting and flexible work shift policy when possible.  Both options are allowed by Vanderbilt Human Resources and can not only improve air quality by keeping cars from being on the road in peak rush hours but can also significantly improve employee morale, productivity, recruitment and retention.

  • Need to transport something in the Downtown, West End or Green Hills area quickly?  Instead of using FedEx, try Green Fleet Messengers, a Nashville bicycle courier service, to avoid creation of harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.  Call 615.463.0602 for more information.

Click here to return to the Sustainable Department Greening Guide.