Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Transportation Survey Outlines Northwestern's Commuting Habits

Northwestern conducted the second biennial Transportation Survey in November 2018 and released the Transportation Survey Report this week.

A collaboration between sustainNU and the Office of Institutional Research, the survey gathered data from over 6,700 respondents including 3,900 faculty and staff, 2,400 graduate students, and nearly 400 undergraduate students. The purpose of the survey is to understand commuting habits. The insights gained from the Transportation Survey will guide ongoing efforts to improve the commuting experience while reducing the University’s environmental footprint, influencing Northwestern’s Campus Transportation and Parking Master Plan, and addressing the objectives of the University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan. These objectives include increasing campus commuters’ use of public transportation by 5% (from 2016 baseline) by 2021 and achieving Bicycle Friendly University Platinum status through the League of American Bicyclists by 2021.

At Northwestern, transportation represents 19% of total greenhouse gas emissions. The University has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2010 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The report outlines primary modes of transportation by season, familiarity with transportation amenities, and insights into what would support increased cycling.Respondents noted that the most important factors in choosing a transportation mode are accessibility, travel time, and safety.  Faculty and staff primarily commute by car (40%) or public train. While students mostly walk to campus (23%), the use of public trains (19%) is nearly as common.

View the 2018 Transportation Survey Report here.

High Level Observations

  • Survey respondents reported less vehicular commuting to and between campuses than in 2016/
  • Divvy marketing and promotion would help raise awareness of bike-sharing amenities on campus.
  • Both students and staff overwhelmingly use Northwestern’s intercampus shuttle to travel between the Evanston and Chicago campuses.
  • An increase in covered or indoor bike parking and bike repair incentives would incentivize an increase in cycling.
  • General awareness of electric vehicle chargers and discounted parking permits for low-emitting vehicles has increased. Discounted permits have increased nearly 4 times from 49 issued in 2016 to 184 in 2018.
Back to top