[Published Sept. 2017]
When a recent report from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) spotlights record levels of congestion in the region, what’s there to celebrate about commuting in the Bay Area?
For Stanford commuters using sustainable transportation, the worse traffic gets, the more they celebrate taking the train, riding the bus, carpooling, biking, and walking for their commutes. For some, the cherry on top was winning a free food truck event in this year’s “Mix and Match Your Commute” Game.
For the first time, Stanford Parking & Transportation Services hosted an online commute competition inviting Stanford employees to re-examine their commutes and try out new modes of transportation.
Each player could fill in one square on a board each day. Squares had actions, such as “Ride Caltrain” and “Refer-A-Friend to the Commute Club.” The object of the Game was to get as many three-in-a-row lines as possible.
The Game engaged more than 350 departments and 2,500 players. Once the scores were tallied, three winning groups emerged, and they all chose the “food truck party” prize:
- Big group: Graduate School of Education
- Small but mighty: Financial Aid Office
- Honorable mention: Computer Science
GSE had the highest department participation with 84 players. They also completed the most three-in-a-row sequences of any department (28 sequences). The Financial Aid Office, which had nearly 100-percent participation at only 16 players, was not far behind, and Computer Science was the next highest score.
Like many food-truck-party revelers, Caroline Stasulat, assistant director of degree programs, GSE, says one of the best things about her Walk-Caltrain-Marguerite commute is avoiding the stress of driving.
“Traffic is horrendous,” she says. “The Caltrain Go Pass allows me to avoid it altogether, plus it’s free! It also helps me save on gas and parking costs. It’s a wonderful benefit.”
Some commuters embodied the "mix and match" theme by embracing multi-modal commutes. Doris Chin, senior research scholar, of the GSE, commutes to work using a combination of train, Marguerite, walk, scooter, and light rail. Unlike drive-alone commuters, Chin finds she is sometimes disappointed when she reaches her destination.
“Today, I reached my Caltrain stop and thought, ‘Dang it! I’m in the middle of a good chapter!’”
Every commuter had a different story, and various reasons for choosing their commute.
For Jeff Shelby, director of compliance and technology, Financial Aid Office, what he likes about carpooling is getting to know people. He found his carpool partners through Stanford’s Carpool and Vanpool Listings page.
“I enjoy the chance to learn about different parts of university from my carpool partners,” he says. “Currently, I carpool with someone who works in pediatric immunology. Fascinating! Another person works in data engineering.”
For Carrie Spector, senior communications associate, GSE, the Game was a chance to explore what Stanford offers.
“The Game made me appreciate how many resources there are at Stanford for all kinds of commuters,” Spector said. “As part of the Game, I participated in the workshop on bike maintenance.”
Jordan Marx, software developer, GSE, completed a square in the Game by carpooling. Since then, he moved closer to campus and now walk commutes.
“I like that my commute provides built in exercise in my day,” he says. “And there’s no stress from traffic.”
Priscilla Fiden, associate dean for administration at GSE, says that the Game sparked enthusiasm among the GSE community.
“You could overhear people in the hallways talking about the game and encouraging each other to play,” she says. “We even had some community members change their commuting habits as a result, committing to fewer drive-in days and more train trips.”
How did the winning teams rise to the top? Each group had an enthusiastic leader who organized and encouraged participation. In the Financial Aid Office, players pointed to Carl Gottbrecht, assistant director of student awards.
“I became ringleader because I’m very competitive and love food!” Gottbrecht said. “I knew that we needed to coordinate our play to get the most three-in-a-rows to maximize our chances of winning. The Game had a great prize and also was a fun way to get people talking about their commutes. Would love to do it again!”
As a thank you to everyone who participated in the “Mix and Match Your Commute” Game, the Gamemasters at Parking & Transportation Services sent participants an adult coloring bookmark and colored pencils. Those who sent us an image of their colored-in bookmark were entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card drawing. We are pleased to announce that the winner is Caroline Cheang, associate director of clerkship administration, School of Medicine. Congratulations, Caroline! Check out Caroline's bookmark.
We were amazed—but not surprised—by the creativity and artistry displayed by those who submitted their bookmark art. You can check out all the bookmark submissions on our online gallery.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the “Mix and Match Your Commute” Game and bookmark coloring promotion, and congratulations to all of the winners!