Smith is working to reduce the impacts of college-related transportation, primarily from the college's fleet of 54 road-legal vehicles and commuting by approximately 1,300 faculty and staff. Because more than 95 percent of students live on or close to campus, student commuting is not a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions or other impacts.
To mitigate fleet impacts, the college has introduced a Honda Civic hybrid into the fleet and replaced a number of larger vans with smaller Toyota vans that yield higher gas mileage. Since 2007, our diesel vehicles use B20 bio-diesel, a mix of 20 percent bio-diesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel fuel. This alternate fuel source reduces engine wear and also produces less carbon monoxide, particulate matter and hydrocarbons.
Currently, about 22 percent of faculty and staff use environmentally preferable transportation (e.g., walking, bicycling, carpooling or public transit). Smith encourages the use of alternate modes of commuting with the following programs:
- Smith provides parking permits to carpool groups (of at least two members) at $10 per year (regular permit is $50/year). Decals are of a type that can be peeled off and moved to another vehicle.
- Smith employees have access to two carpool matching services—MassRIDES and UMass Rideshare. By signing up for the MassRIDES program, employees who use alternative ways to get to work are eligible for emergency rides home.
- Smith initiated a "parking opt-out" program in 2008 that pays faculty and staff not to drive. In 2009, the program created a tiered system where those who opt out and live within one mile of the center of campus will receive $150 per year and those who opt out and live farther than one mile will receive $400.
- Smith (in cooperation with Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst) financially subsidizes the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), which provides transit service among the Five College campuses and bordering communities. Smith students, faculty and staff may ride all PVTA buses free of charge during the academic year.
- Smith students run Bicycle Kitchen, which rents bicycles to students for $15 a semester. The goal of the bicycle kitchen is to help students learn how to maintain their bikes rather than solely providing maintenance service. Student volunteers help other students learn how to repair flat tires, rusty chains, bad breaks, gear and shifting problems and perform general tune-ups.
- In 2009, students from the Bike Kitchen cooperated with the Alumnae Association in the association's efforts to "green" their college reunion weekends by providing rental services during two reunion weekends in May. Almost all bikes were rented during these weekends.
- Since 2006, Smith has contracted with Zipcar, the nation's largest car-sharing service. Zipcar has five cars on campus which can be rented by Smith and local community members by the hour. Zipcar estimates that each of its cars eliminates the need for more than 20 privately-owned vehicles.