Soaring Gas Prices Take Toll at UCSF

With gas prices reaching record highs in August, UCSF is doing what it can to encourage alternative forms of transportation. The average price for all three grades of gas rose nearly 13 cents to $2.65 in the two weeks ending Aug. 26, according to an industry expert. See AP story here. Jon Gledhill, director of UCSF Transportation Services since 1991, has noticed a silver lining to the rising gas prices: More folks are leaving their cars at home. Promoting alternative transportation is one of the University's top priorities. In concert with the City of San Francisco's transit-first policy, UCSF is encouraging the use of alternative transportation modes, including walking, biking and the use of shuttles, light rail, buses and trains, as important components in an effort to reduce the noise and pollution associated with traffic congestion and to increase safety for all who use city streets. Gledhill, who was recently nominated as a clean air champion, leads a department that is really focused on doing its part to be less gasoline-dependent. In fact, key members of Transportation Services serve on the UCSF Sustainability Committee, a cross-section of the campus community working to protect and enhance the environment and public health through an integrated approach. Q: What are the annual operating costs last year vs. this year?
A: Campus costs for fuel increased $130,000 from the previous year. In 2003-04, gas costs totaled $447,000. This year, 2004-05, costs equaled $576,000. Q: Has there been an increase in riders on the shuttle buses?
A: Yes. Ridership has increased by 447,000 boardings. In June 2004, UCSF had 1.13 million boardings; in June 2005, that figure jumped to 1.6 million boardings. This is also attributable to increasing numbers of faculty, staff and students going to the new campus at UCSF Mission Bay. Q: Have you increased the number of shuttles?
A: No. The number of shuttles in operation serving shuttles routes remains at 25. Q: Have you added additional stop locations, such as BART and train stations?
A: Yes. We have added one stop at the 55 Laguna St. site, formerly the UC Berkeley Extension facility, as a satellite lot serving the Parnassus campus. Q: Are more employees signing up for the UCSF vanpools and/or rideshare?
A: We have had a huge increase in vanpool and rideshare interest in the past year and a half. We have filled almost all of our vanpools and have 17 vanpools ready to start. We are working on ways to provide vans for these new riders. Q: What is the current number of hybrid vehicles in the UCSF fleet?
A: We have nine hybrid vehicles currently in the campus fleet: eight Toyota Prius hybrids and one Honda Insight hybrid. Also we have 19 electric vehicles, all Ford Think electric vehicles. UCSF's total number of alternative-fuel vehicles is 28. Q: Do you plan on purchasing more hybrids?
A: Yes, and we are promoting the use of alternative-fuel vehicles campuswide on an ongoing basis. As a large employer with a large vehicle fleet, the campus is required to purchase a given percentage of alternative-fuel vehicles as part of all new vehicle purchases. Q: Are you exploring alternative fuel sources?
A: We have compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles as part of our fleet already. This combined with hybrids really are the only available alternative fuel alternatives currently available. We continue to keep an eye out for all alternative fuel possibilities, including hydrogen and bio-diesel. Q: Are you aware of more employees who want to telecommute?
A: We are uncertain about this, and campus Human Resources does not presently track this information. Q: Are more people carpooling?
A: Other than our own internal 105 carpoolers, whom we track, we do not currently have a definitive number of carpoolers to provide statistically. Carpool matching is now available on our website. It is just starting up and is slowly growing in popularity. Source: Lisa Cisneros and Nancy Heller

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