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Traffic Study Shows Fewer Vehicles at Penn State, More Commuters Take the Bus

by on May 07, 2014 2:14 PM

Fewer people are driving to Penn State's campus and more commuters are taking the bus, according to a new traffic study.

The 10-year traffic study conducted by Penn State – and required under a State College borough ordinance – shows a more than 10 percent decline in vehicle traffic entering and exiting University Park.

Rob Watts, an engineer with McCormick and Taylor, presented the study Wednesday to the borough's planning commission.

Watts says the reduction in vehicle traffic occurred between 2000 and 2011 despite an increase in student enrollment and 3.8 million square-feet in campus office and classroom space.

At the same time, CATA bus ridership to campus is up 10 percent from 31,837 in 2002 to 35,038 in 2011. Additionally, the study showed an increase in pedestrian and bike traffic.

Overall, campus traffic breaks down like this:

Pedestrians – 43 percent

Vehicles – 34 percent

Bus – 18 percent

Bicyclists – 2.5 percent

Vanpool – 2.5 percent

Looking forward, areas where the volume of traffic will not be able to be accommodated include University Drive near College Avenue and Park Avenue where there's a large amount of traffic due, in part, to nearby commuter parking lots.

Ultimately, Watts says the goal is for the university to find ways to encourage less vehicle traffic and more pedestrian, bike and bus traffic.

"The goal is to minimize the number of single occupant vehicle trips (to campus)," Watts says.

The study did not calculate university employees who park in borough-owned garages and then walk to campus. Several members of the planning commission asked Watts to include such figures in the next study.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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