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Better Transit, Better Campus

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

By Arlenis Marmolejos

On June 29, 2015, Tom Kelly charged his electric vehicle at the West 1 parking lot charging station, before it was removed for pavement renovation. (Photo via Tom Kelly)

Purchase College continues to advance sustainable transit efforts as the path to reshaping its environment and future awaits.

“The administration must balance the needs of the students and the campus with a variety of interests, but it has fully supported the work of the Sustainability Advisory and Outreach Committee in its initiatives,” said the Senior Energy Manager, Tom Kelly.

Kelly practices what he preaches by driving an energy-efficient Toyota Prius Plug-In electric hybrid. “In approximately 18 months, I have gone to a gas station six times; my lease payment is far less than the cost of purchasing gasoline.”

“Reducing the number of emissions emitted from a vehicle benefits the local environment in terms of air and water pollution plus, it may inspire others to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles and improve efficiencies like home improvement projects,” said Kelly.

Professor of journalism, Ross Daly said, “I’ve been driving my Honda Insight since 2019, its electric motor is gas-powered and has a lot of safety and automated cruise control features and is better for the environment. Hybrid vehicles are cheaper; I don’t have to buy gas more than once every two or three weeks.”

Daly recommended that “people should buy an all-electric car because prices for the batteries are going down and they are improving with good range.”

Kelly is aware that Purchase will soon have to accommodate more electric or plug-in hybrid drivers by installing more electric vehicle charging stations, especially with the likely capability since the renovation in the West 1 parking lot.

“I plan on submitting a grant for up to 20 charging stations to be installed at various locations on campus,” said Kelly.

Another sustainable option for some involves carpooling. Jason Pine, an anthropology and media studies professor, takes the initiative in organizing carpool rides with his colleagues from Astoria, Queens to Purchase. “Carpooling limits excessive fossil fuel usage in having one less car on the road, and to other drivers, it lessens traffic congestion,” said Pine.

Professors Jennifer Uleman (on the right) and Emiliano Diaz (on the left), and Uleman’s dog, Lucy, carpool to work (Photo by Arlenis Marmolejos)

Jennifer Uleman, an associate professor of philosophy, explained her 15-year carpool journey from Jackson Heights, Queens to Purchase College.

“The incentive structure is totally in favor of me driving even with split gas, tolls, and car insurance prices. It is time-effective, inexpensive, and socially engaging to connect with my peers rather than using public transportation,” said Uleman.

Students also care about sustainable transportation methods on campus. “We, the community, make unsustainable choices due to a lack of access,” said Caroline Jimenez, a sophomore history major who is also a NYPIRG state-wide student board member on campus, and advocate for environmental protection.

Jimenez explained how she likes how sustainable the Loop shuttle buses are to the campus environment and is aware of how many students use them daily. However, “the information can be scarce to commuters” and proposed that having digital QR codes, pamphlets, or a bus tracking app available to students can increase transit awareness and efficiency.

Students and faculty getting on the White Plains Loop shuttle bus outside The Stood at CCS [Campus Center South] (Photo by Arlenis Marmolejos)

The Executive Director of the Purchase College Association, Patrick Savolskis, explained his efforts in negotiating transportation operations. “The Loop bus contract is almost up; we’ve pondered on getting hybrid or electrically powered buses for a while and perhaps, bringing back the bus tracking app but it all depends on the budget,” said Savolskis.

Purchase has formerly advanced mobility efforts by substituting the large energy-consuming shuttle buses for more sustainable and frequent smaller buses. As the campus community continues to rely on the Loop for commute, the service will continue to progress.

Grace Afflerbach, the new sustainability coordinator stated, “I’ve recently been working with a program called 511NY Rideshare to help connect commuters with the best mode of transportation via bus, carpool, and more. Rideshare reduces traffic congestion, which in turn reduces air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases.”

“We can approach sustainability on a smaller scale, which is why I plan to infuse sustainability into every aspect on campus including transit,” said Afflerbach.



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