Sustainability Dashboard - Transportation

Overview

Western’s vision for transportation can be found in the Sustainability Action Plan. It reads: “Western enables and empowers everyone to choose safe, accessible, sustainable transportation throughout the campus, community, and the world.” This vision requires many players. 

On Western’s Bellingham campus, Transportation Services, Facilities Management, Travel Services, the Sustainability Engagement Institute and others work to make this vision a reality. By collecting data on parking frequency, commuting modes, and university sponsored air and ground travel, these groups have been building important baseline data that can better inform administrative decisions regarding transportation on and off campus. In addition, Facilities Management has been working to comply with state standards for the University Fleet.

Explicitly stated in the SAP, achieving Western’s transportation vision also requires support from community organizations such as Whatcom Transportation Authority, the City of Bellingham, Smart Trips, and Skagit Transit, to name a few. Because many students, faculty, and staff travel to the Bellingham campus from the broader community, and our transit systems are regional in nature, these organizations are all connected and considered when we evaluate travel to, from, and on Western’s campus.

The data below shows the commuting modes used by students, faculty, and staff to travel to and from campus every day. See data collection details here.
 

Commuting Mode Graphs

This data was collected from two sources. The faculty and staff data comes from a transportation survey created and run by the State of Washington and distributed by Western’s Transportation Office. The student data is collected every two years from a  survey created and released by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, referred to as the WELS survey (see link to this page below). The questions in these surveys ask participants to detail their transportation from the past week, assuming that transportation habits don’t change drastically week-to-week. In addition, survey responses tend to be more accurate when respondents are asked to report on recent travel versus general trends in travel.

Transportation data accounts for the main Bellingham campus as well as all satellite campuses. Based on our current methodology for collecting and reporting transportation data we don't have a feasible way to account for WWU satellite campuses on main campus independently.

Sustainability Action Plan Progress

The Transportation section of the SAP outlines five goals:

Goal 1: Western recognizes its role as a member of the larger transportation community and engages in local, regional, and state transportation issues and solutions.

How is WWU working towards this goal?
  • Western endorses busing, biking, and walking not only to benefit our school, but also the greater Bellingham and Whatcom communities as our travel is not restricted to campus.
  • Western partners with Whatcom Transportation Authority, the City of Bellingham, Skagit Transit, and Whatcom Smart Trips.

Goal 2: Improve safety for users of all transportation modes through education and infrastructure improvements, prioritizing by vulnerability.

How is WWU working towards this goal?

Goal 3: Reduce climate impacts of employee and student Western-related ground travel.

How is WWU working towards this goal?
  • The Sustainability Engagement Institute, Transportation Office, and many individuals on campus work to promote sustainable transportation. Please visit the pages listed below to access some of these resources. 

Goal 4: Reduce climate impacts of Western-related air travel.

How is WWU working towards this goal?
  • Travel Services displays a direct link to the Transportation Services webpage for quick access to environmentally friendly travel options.
  • Travel Services encourages on-line booking and electronic receipts to reduce the use of paper for travel documents.
  • Western uses Concur, a travel and expense management system that:
    • Displays flight carbon emission amounts.
    • Encourages the use of videoconferencing.
    • Highlights train travel over air travel
    • Supports hybrid cars where available.
    • Connects with apps that reduce carbon emissions, such as ride-sharing apps.
    •  Tracks travel so accurate emissions data can be calculated.

Goal 5: Annually decrease impacts of university fleet vehicles.

How is WWU working towards this goal?
  • The university currently has 200 fleet vehicles. Of those 200, 14 are hybrid electric vehicles, and 4 are battery electric.
  • The oldest battery electric fleet vehicle was purchased in 2005, and the newest was bought in 2021 and is a Nissan Leaf.
  • From here on out, any vehicle that enters the fleet will be battery electric, unless there is not a battery-powered option for the vehicle that is needed.
  • Facilities Management has always ensured that it is following the state mandates for vehicle purchase. Most recently, Jay Inslee issued Executive Order 21-04 which requires all state-owned vehicle fleets to be Zero emissions by 2035.

Learn More About Sustainable Transportation at Western

 

Western’s Transportation Services works to increase the availability of sustainable transportation methods for students, faculty, and staff. It is a great resource for information about all of the transportation-related projects and initiatives on campus. It is also a good place to find resources on how to safely and efficiently bike and bus around Bellingham and Whatcom County. 

Smart Trips is a way to track the walking, biking, busing, and carpooling trips that you take. Participants are eligible to win cash prizes and receive discounts at local businesses. 

The Whatcom Transportation Authority website is a great way to learn about the sustainable travel initiatives that are taking place in Whatcom County. Western partners with the WTA to provide bus passes for students, faculty, and staff. Student bus passes are connected to their Western account. In each tuition payment, there is a small fee that pays for these bus passes. Faculty and staff can opt in for a reduced rate bus pass. 

The City of Bellingham has great resources for sustainable transportation. Here you can find the Pedestrian Master Planning page that is full of resources that the city is working on for pedestrians. Additionally, the City has a page for biking and pedestrian maps, trails, education, and other resources. These are both great resources to learn about the safest and most efficient ways to travel around Bellingham. 

Skagit Transit has restored bus routes from Skagit Valley to Bellingham and Everett. This is a great option for bus commuting if one is traveling in between these places. See this page on the Transportation Services website to learn more about bus times and general information about this service

University Fleet

Data and information coming soon!

Air Travel

Data and information coming soon!