Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 61.04
Liaison Tina Woolston
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Tufts University
OP-16: Student Commute Modal Split

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.69 / 2.00 Shoshana Blank
Education and Outreach Program Administrator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total percentage of students (graduate and undergraduate) that use more sustainable commuting options as their primary means of transportation:

A brief description of the method(s) used to gather data about student commuting, including the timeframe for when the analysis was conducted and how a representative sample was reached, if applicable:

The Tufts Office of Institutional Research administered an online commuting survey to all employees and students on the university’s four campuses on April 30, 2018. A 'census survey method' was used where the response rate needs to be at least 50% of applicable commuters. The email reminders were sent out to those who had not yet completed the survey for several weeks. Tufts emails the survey to most of the University (students, staff, and faculty), those that they have not pre-screened out as a non-commuter, and filters out those who are not applicable commuters. This filtering out happens when the survey participant indicates that they are “part-time” or if they are a student that lives on campus.

4,550 students completed the survey, but only 2,524 were self-reported as living off-campus. Therefore only 2,524 students made it to the commute mode share question for the week of April 23 - 27, 2018. These 2,524 students represent 35.9% of our off-campus students on all campuses. However, it remains to be unknown if they are an exact representative sample of the commuter student population (depends what you define representative as). It is, however, a high percentage of the total off-campus students and using the "census survey method" is advised by the Massachusetts Rideshare Program, to which Tufts report.

In the survey, students were asked how they commuted from home to Tufts during a typical 5-day week (Monday - Friday) from April 23 - April 27, 2018. Students who traveled by multiple modes of transportation (e.g., walk to the subway station) were asked to choose the mode with the most miles traveled.

The survey has been distributed in April since 2014 since it is prior to finals and the end of the school year, represents a time without extreme weather, and not a particularly high vacation-taking period since it is in the heart of the academic year.

Since we did not collect data on students who live on campus, we assumed that 100% of them used a non-motorized commute method on campus. We then added those assumed walking trips into the total numbers, to develop new percentages.

The percentage of students that use each of the following modes as their primary means of transportation to get to and from campus::
Percentage (0-100)
Commute with only the driver in the vehicle (excluding motorcycles and scooters) 15.60
Walk, bicycle, or use other non-motorized means 65.10
Vanpool or carpool 1.70
Take a campus shuttle or public transportation 17.40
Use a motorcycle, scooter or moped 0.20

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

To obtain the numbers above, the total commutes for all 5 days of the week for each mode of transportation were averaged (e.g., 1146 students walked or cycled to campus on Monday, 1139 on Tuesday, 1126 on Wednesday, 1109 on Thursday, and 1065 on Friday - these numbers were added together to give a total number of walking/cycling commutes in the week). The total number of respondents to each of the five days were added up (5,585 for walk/cycle), then divided by 0.359 so that we could get the total one-way commute trips for 100% of the off-campus population (15,565). We then took our 3,564 on -campus students, assumed they each walked for five days that week (3,564*5 = 17,820) and then added those walking trips to the off-campus trips = 33,385 walk/cycle trips total. This represents the numerator, and we used the total number of responses over the five days as the denominator (51,257 when including 100% of off-campus and on-campus students), to get an average mode share over the course of the five days. This excludes anyone who listed they did not come to campus on a given day.

Students completing the survey could select one of the following commuting modes: Drove my own car, Drove my own motorcycle or moped, Carpool, Walked or cycled, MBTA Bus, Subway (the T), Tufts Davis Square Shuttle, Commuter Rail/Regional Train, and "I was not on campus".

The weather during the week was as follows (from wunderground.com):
Monday: mean temp 51 degrees F, precipitation 0.00"
Tuesday: mean temp 56 degrees F, precipitation 0.00"
Wednesday: mean temp 52 degrees F, precipitation 0.72"
Thursday: mean temp 59 degrees F, precipitation 0.21"
Friday: mean temp 52 degrees F, precipitation 0.54"

There were a few assumptions we had to make here. We had to assume that the self-reported off-campus students did not include students who live very close to or even on-campus, but not in university housing. This includes some students who live in Greek Houses on campus that are not owned by Tufts. We also assumed that 100% of students living in university housing walked for their commutes all 5 days of the week. We also got these full-time student numbers based on fall 2017 enrollment, when this survey was distributed in spring 2018. Many students study abroad during the spring semester, so the total number of students is probably a bit smaller.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.