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UMass Lowell Wins Award for Commuter Benefits

State Lauds Efforts to Create Transportation Options

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UMass Lowell earned an award for expanding commuter benefits like shuttle bus service that help create a healthier and more sustainable environment.

By Jill Gambon

UMass Lowell’s efforts to increase bike-sharing, expand shuttle bus service and broaden carpooling options for students and employees have earned honors from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MassCommute, a non-profit association of transportation-management agencies.

The University received an Excellence in Commuter Options (ECO) award at a ceremony at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston. The ECO awards honor efforts to create a more sustainable and healthier environment.

At a time when enrollment is growing and more people are coming to campus, UMass Lowell has taken numerous steps to make it easier to walk, bike, rideshare and use mass transit. The Rec-Cycles free bike-lending program, the introduction of ZipCar on campus and new carpool ride-matching services are some initiatives the University has introduced.

In December, the University released its first-ever transportation plan, outlining recommendations to improve mobility and promote the long-term sustainability of campus. In addition, the campus has hired a transportation demand coordinator, Eric Papetti, to plan and oversee outreach for transportation programs, track data and monitor the University’s progress in meeting its goals.

“The goal for transportation demand management is to expand options for how students, faculty and staff get to campus – other than driving alone,” Papetti says. “For campus residents, we’re trying to make it easier to live here without a car.” 

Papetti expects that ZipCar availability and the bike-sharing program will be expanded in the coming months. Looking ahead, he sees a growing need to provide alternatives to driving to campus.

“We are currently studying other incentive programs to get people to carpool,” he says. “Given the current University growth rates, if we don’t do something to dampen demand for parking, we could have another parking shortage in three years.”