Commuter Profile

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $30,000

Letter of Intent:

Define the campus environmental problem that you are attempting to solve:

The primary campus environmental problem this project addresses is carbon emissions. It also addresses problems of resource consumption and pollution produced by the operation of vehicles and creation and maintenance of roads and parking lots.

According to the UW Climate Action Plan, 24.4% of our campus carbon emissions are attributed to commuting. UW Transportation has done an impressive job, particularly with the U-Pass program, and our current mode-split is commendable by US standards. But there is plenty of room for improvement. For example, about 1/3 of UW commuters currently walk or bicycle for their commute but twice that many (about 60%) of the campus population lives within 5 miles of campus which puts them within comfortable bicycling/walking distance (bicycling is generally the most cost and time-efficient form of transportation for distances between 2 and 5 miles according to the Cascade Bicycle Club, and walking is very viable at shorter distances).

Not only will a switch to lower-impact forms of transportation reduce our environmental impact, but they will reduce traffic congestion, improve health and create a more humane campus environment (some interesting research shows positive effects of reduced vehicle traffic on quality of life:

Describe your proposed solution to this problem:

The proposed solution is a web-based tool which allows people to indicate the start and endpoints of their commute and be provided with a “Commuter Profile” which gives them information about their commuting options including suggested routes (provided by Google Maps), estimated costs and benefits (money spent, calories burned, carbon emissions produced), resources available to UW commuters (e.g. UPass, bike facilities, ride-sharing resources, telecommuting policies, etc) and other motivational/inspirational information about the benefits of more environmentally friendly commuting options (e.g. profiles of commuters and expert advice offered by UW researchers and professionals).

Changing commuting behavior is not easy. People have logistical, health, and practical reasons for choosing their commute option. There are real hurdles to switching. Enabling a switch requires the alignment of many factors in an individual’s life. This proposed project doesn’t address all of those factors, but it does address the information/education.

To see an early design mock-up, go to

My vision is that a link to this tool would be provided to all students/faculty/staff to accompany the information that is sent out each quarter with the UPass (this is something that Transportation Services would help determine). It could also be available from MyUW.

What form and amount of student leadership will your project involve?

This project will be overseen, managed and carried out by students who will coordinate their efforts with UW staff (Transportation Services). Students will not only do the design and technical work, but also interact with staff and faculty to gather feedback and support, conduct usability testing, and identify the substantial resources the UW community can provide (e.g.expertise on relevant topics ranging from the health impacts of different commuting modes to urban planning and policy-setting to support commuters).

What type and amount of outreach and education will your project involve?

The finished project will provide education/awareness about the environmental impacts and personal/social impacts of various commuting options to everyone who uses it (potentially the entire UW community).
The process of creating the project will involve outreach to UW staff and faculty to garner their support and, in the process, create mutual awareness of the resources the UW has to address and minimize its own environmental impacts.

What amount of funds do you anticipate your project will require from the CSF?

The funds required for this project include money to pay students for their work and money to reimburse participants in focus groups and usability testing. The funds will support the UW ( helping to fund UW students, by using UW catering and by reimbursing via the Husky card to encourage on-campus purchasing).

What you see below is a very rough estimate of the magnitude of funds needed to make this project successful:

Approximately $30,000

2 quarters, Half-time Graduate or undergraduate student:
Coordinator: An individual who will oversee the work of the developers, conduct the focus groups, and gather information about UW research and professional expertise.

2 quarters, $1,600-8,000
10-20hr/week graduate or undergraduate student for 2 quarters
Communication designer: Craft and frame the messages to be compelling and relevant.

2 quarters, $1,600-8,000
10-20hr/week graduate or undergraduate student for 2 quarters
Visual designer: Design a visually appealing and effective site.

2 quarters, $1,600-8,000
10-20hr/week graduate or undergraduate student for 2 quarters
Web designer: Design and implement an effective interactive interface.

2 quarters, $1,600-8,000
10-20hr/week graduate or undergraduate student for 2 quarters
Coder: Address the technical challenges of working with Google Maps and other online
resources to produce the recommended routes.

$300 focus groups (4, 5 people each) – buy lunch from Bay Laurel Catering
($15 each)
$300 usability testing – 4 rounds, 5 people each time, give $15 to Husky card

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Marilyn Ostergren