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The University has recently revealed that several targets within its on-going Travel Plan have already been reached, despite these targets not having been expected until 2015.
The Travel Plan was established with the key goals of reducing carbon emissions, due to the University claiming it is a “major local employer with 3,019 staff”, and having “11,000 registered students, of whom about 9.560 are full-time undergraduates and post-graduates”. The main goals of the Travel Plan are to reduce dependence on travelling by car and encourage staff and students either to car-share, to make use of the network of bus services, to walk or to cycle in order “to lead to energy savings, less traffic pollution and less congestion”. As well as this, the plan hopes to “enhance public perceptions of the University […] contribute to the health of all who work or use the site”, and help the University’s efforts to become an economically and environmentally sustainable site.
In the five-year Travel Plan, Lancaster cited the work of volunteer-group Green Lancaster and other environmental posts which they aimed to create “within the Facilities Division” as a way to encourage more staff and students to walk or cycle to university. Also on offer will be “new shower facilities for cyclists” and a “reconditioned bicycle sales scheme”.
Changes to student and visitor parking policies have also been implemented to try to encourage staff, students and visitors to use public modes of transport. This has led to the University introducing an “absolute reduction in car parking spaces available”, and reviewing the Car Parking Policy on an annual basis. Instead of allowing a reliance on transport by car, the University has been working to improve public transport methods, and even encouraging staff to rely on railways for business travel. The renovation of the Underpass, which was completed this year, is a significant part of the initiative, and assists in the University’s goal of providing “real time bus timetable information”. The Travel Plan also claims that the X1 service, which runs regularly from campus to the railway station, was introduced thanks to “pump-prime funding from the University”, and twelve new Lancaster University-branded Stagecoach buses have been introduced onto the commuter routes.
The University proudly announced last week that “just over half of staff and 88 per cent of students” are now using sustainable methods of transport, with bus use amongst students in particular “now up by more than a quarter” and “two thirds of students living off campus” choosing to commute by bus.
As well as this, staff members are also embracing buses, indicated by the increase from just 17 per cent to a quarter of the staff choosing to use public transport. The University claims that it has encouraged this by introducing “subsidised university staff bus passes” and improvements in the frequency of buses, with a bus “every four-and-a-half minutes between campus and the city centre”, stating that Lancaster has the highest bus frequency of any other campus university within the UK.
Phil Longton, Travel and Environment Co-ordinator, said: “It’s really satisfying to have achieved such success with the Travel Plan by significantly increasing sustainable travel. This proves that the University is taking its environmental responsibilities seriously and we are committed to reducing carbon emissions by every means possible. Transport plays a crucial role in this.”