Friday, February 1, 2013

Sustainable Transportation to Annual Retreat

How do you effectively and efficiently get eighty students and staff from Santa Cruz to Boulder Creek in a sustainable way?

This was the question that faced the Transportation Sub-Committee for the Inter-Org Retreat this year. Led by Brenden Fant, the Student Environmental Center Transportation Coordinator, the Sub-Committee did a fantastic job this year coordinating everyone's schedules and needs so that we could get everyone there in one piece.

To bus or to drive? That is the question.

For the first time in the three years that this retreat has taken place, the Transportation Sub-Committee looked into using Santa Cruz Metro buses (thanks for the suggestion, Joyce Rice!). Students were encouraged to take the 35 bus to the Mountain Store bus stop, where they would be picked up by vans that had taken other participants to the retreat center, and attendees were asked to only take a car or van option if their schedule made it impossible for them to take a bus.

Thanks to support from Larry Pageler, Director of Transportation and Parking Services, Santa Cruz Metro provided extra buses and was accommodating of our needs in trying to get as many students as possible to Boulder Creek on Friday, January 11.

Despite having many students taking the bus, we still needed to rent vans from the Recreation Department to transport supplies and some of the students--thank you UCSC Rec for providing basic training for staff and students to drive them and for making that process smooth. Because we had so many students taking the bus this year, we only had to rent two vans, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the cost of retreat transportation.

After much shuffling of ride options and many hours spent poring over the transportation spreadsheet, the day finally arrived and students and staff made their way to Boulder Creek. In the end, here's the breakdown of how folks arrived at the retreat:
  • Metro bus: 35 students (roughly 43% of attendees)
  • Vans: 16 students and staff took two vans, one van half-filled with supplies and bus-rider luggage (roughly 20% of attendees)
  • Carpool: 29 students and staff arrived by car, and almost all of these cars were filled with students (roughly 36% of attendees)
On the return trip on Sunday, we filled all of the cars returning to Santa Cruz so there would be plenty of room on the one bus that left around noon. Twenty-one students were on the bus and everyone else took a van or filled a car.

Thank you to everyone who made the bus option possible and to those students who chose to ride the bus there and back. Next year, perhaps we'll be able to eliminate even more cars and get students and staff to the retreat in more sustainable ways. Bike ride along Highway 9, anyone?

Read more about this year's retreat here.

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