The transportation sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Columbia is committed to implementing transportation initiatives that:
reduce vehicular emissions and traffic congestion generated by University operations
increase access to sustainable and healthy travel modes
use best practice planning principles
- serve as a model for our students, New York City and beyond
Getting Columbia’s almost 50,000 students, faculty, and staff to and from campus each day is a monumental effort. Columbia’s prime location in NYC, means our transportation impact is kept minimal. Each day, about 89% of the Columbia community—that's about 40,000 people—choose a low-carbon commute option, such as walking, biking, public transit, carpooling, or a Columbia shuttle. Columbia is proud that about one-third of its community chooses an active, healthy commute mode by opting to walk or bike.
Columbia tracks its progress in reducing its impact from commuter travel, through periodic surveys. Columbia is working hard to develop new initiatives that incentivize even greater mode shift. The chart below shows the latest data on Columbia’s commute mode choice.
89% of Columbians commute sustainably
Columbia's ranked #1 for transportation in AASHE's 2015 Sustainable Campus Index
Over 240 active Zagster bike share members ride an average of 353 bike trips per month
531 Columbians ride the intercampus shuttle every day
Professor Peter Kelemen kayaks the Hudson River to Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory
37% of Columbia’s vehicle fleet is 100% electric or hybrid
100% of Public Safety’s car fleet is gas-electric hybrid
Fast, Frequent Transit
About 51% of Columbians arrive by mass transit each day. About every four minutes, NYC’s 1 train makes connections to Columbia’s three Manhattan campuses and beyond, offering a fast, convenient and low impact option for day-time intercampus and commute travel. It’s estimated over 25,000 transit trips are made daily by Columbia members choosing NYC transit.
Columbia operates free shuttle buses between its campuses. Shuttle buses allow for safe and efficient travel which reduces the need for employees and students to use a car for intercampus travel.
Although most trips at Columbia are taken by foot, Columbia continues to grow bike culture as part of the University’s commitment to a healthy and sustainable Columbia. Creating a more bike-friendly campus reduces traffic and parking congestion and improves the health and wellbeing of the University community. Columbia has significantly grown bike culture through offering discounts at local bike shops, free bike tune-ups, bicycle education classes, bike repair stations, shared bicycles, secure bike parking enclosures and conveniently located outdoor bike parking which has added over 400 bike parking spaces university-wide.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Below grade parking at Morningside campus is equipped with electric vehicle charging stations to incentivize driving commuters to choose electric vehicles.
Car sharing allows individuals to live without owning a car, but allows them to get convenient access to a car when needed. Columbia has partnered with Zipcar to offer a car sharing service at a discounted price for University affiliates. This initiative saves space, and user fees incentivize members to only use a car when they really need one.
Local Columbia Housing
Due to Columbia’s investment into offering local housing, about 30% of Columbia affiliates have an entirely walking commute. This greatly reduces the demand for energy intensive transportation modes, and means we are supporting our local community as well as supporting healthy, active lifestyles.
Columbia’s campus is compact, which means that the University can operate with significantly fewer vehicles than most other universities. Columbia has a fleet of about 55 vehicles which are used by Facilities, Athletics, Public Safety, Transportation and Mail departments. As vehicles retire, Columbia replaces them with hybrid or electric vehicles whenever possible. Currently, about 40% of Columbia’s fleet is made up of hybrid or 100% electric vehicles.
Our clean fleet Columbia vehicles are:
Blue TEC engine
1.33 lbs. CO2/mi.
0.98 lbs. CO2/mi.
0.82 lbs. CO2/mi.
1.27 lbs. CO2/mi.
0.15 lbs. CO2/mi.
All of Columbia’s bus services are owned and operated by Academy Bus, an outside organization, so when the buses aren’t moving people at Columbia, they are moving people elsewhere, making efficient use of vehicles and natural resources. Academy Bus has incorporated environmentally responsible practices into their operations, such as recycling all liquid waste, and using non-toxic cleaning chemicals.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Columbia has achieved Gold level in the STARS rating system and was recognized for achieving a higher score in the transportation category than any other university.
Columbia has been awarded a Silver Bicycle Friendly Business and a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University award by The League of American Bicyclists. These awards were achieved through Columbia’s focused efforts towards growing bike culture, bicycle infrastructure enhancements, bike share, bicycle education classes, and safe accessibility by bike via the local bike lane network.
Columbia’s decision to expand its operations within its home community of northern Manhattan, confirms its commitment to progressive land use principles which foster compact urban lifestyles, and incorporates mixed-use development initiatives that allow people to choose sustainable and healthy transportation options. Columbia’s new Manhattanville campus is the nation’s first LEED-ND university campus plan.
Sustainable Travel Resources