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Sustainable Bonus

Helping to save the environment can save campus drivers some dollars.

Through an agreement with UAlbany, CDTA buses are free of charge for students, faculty and staff with a UAlbany card. (Photos by Jhoanna Haro)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 21, 20116) — Getting to and from school doesn’t have to take such a hit on your wallet, or on the environment. UAlbany offers a variety of eco-friendly transportation services.

This fall, Parking and Mass Transit Services (PTMS) began offering a 20 percent discount to drivers of electric cars and fuel-efficient vehicles that obtain a combination city/highway of at least 35 mpg.

The initiative is a joint effort between PTMS and the Office of Sustainability to recognize drivers who are making an attempt to reduce carbon emissions, said Jason Jones, PTMS director. It’s also a way to track the number of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles on campus and to evaluate the need for more electric vehicle stations.

The joint effort started in 2008, said Mary Ellen Mallia, director of sustainability. Since then, both departments have joined the Clean Cities Coalition to find ways to reduce reliance on petroleum in transportation.

The Office of Sustainability and PTMS both stay on top of transportation trends, share information on what is going on at other campuses and discuss services that can be implemented at UAlbany, said Mallia.

Such services provided to students free of charge are the UAlbany shuttles and the Campus Bike Share Program. The bikes can be found at the Wellness Centers in Alumni, Colonial and Indian Quads. All that students require to sign out a bike is their UAlbany ID card.

CDTA buses are also free of charge for students, faculty and staff with a UAlbany card. The car sharing service Zipcar is also available on campus, for $7.50 an hour for faculty, staff and students.

Jose Gonzalez, a junior studying Human Biology, said it’s great that the school is giving incentives to students promoting environmentally friendly cars. “Global warming is becoming such an issue,” he said. “It’s good that the school is contributing to helping the environment.”

The regular fee for a parking decal is $25 and with the discount the fee reduces to $20. Gonzalez says $5 isn’t much of a savings but it’s more about the principle than the actual discount.

Krista Kennedy, a junior Biology major, said she feels that the deduction is moving the University in the right direction. “Even though the discount is not a lot, supporting people who help the environment is definitely something that needs to happen more often.”

PTMS has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for providing workplace charging stations for their employees who drive plug-in electric vehicles. “We learned that providing financial incentives or preferred parking for choosing more environmentally friendly modes of transportation was effective,” said Mallia.

The University offers two electric vehicle charging sites on campus: at the Uptown Campus at Collins Circle and the Downtown Campus in the Thurlow Terrace lot. Both stations can charge two vehicles at once.

Jones said expansion of the electric vehicle stations are planned. “We are currently assessing implementation of a new station on campus, either on Liberty Terrace or at SEFCU arena,” he said.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.