There are several transportation challenges facing campuses and their students today. Students lack cars due to the cost and due to many universities discouraging vehicles on campus. On the other hand, there’s a lack of public transportation options, and some universities have faced problems hiring bus drivers. To complicate matters further, parking is expensive and scant, and restrictions are strict.
When the issues above are compounded with universities attempting to hit their climate action plan goals, many universities find themselves performing a complex balancing act: ensuring students can get around in a convenient and affordable way while limiting carbon emissions and simultaneously keeping the campus organized.
One such university facing this exact challenge is the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Beginning December 2022, UIC will introduce a unique way for students and faculty to get around campus and the local community while addressing its sustainability goals: the Dash Electric Vehicle (EV) car sharing program.
Dash is a low-speed, street-legal, 100% electric vehicle that offers riders an efficient, convenient and comfortable mobility service, with cars strategically located at key locations around campus.
With the ability to comfortably seat two, students and faculty can use the Dash when running late or needing to get across campus quickly. And since every Dash on campus has heating and air conditioning, it’s a perfect transportation solution for Chicago’s ever-changing weather — whether it’s cold, hot, windy or rainy. Best of all, first rides are free.
Students and faculty simply download the DASH app, upload a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license, then enter their credit card information. The program conducts a background check, and within three days, registrants receive a text confirming participation and outlining the next steps — including where to find the nearest Dash.
Dash corrals (like bike share corrals) double as charging stations and are spread out around campus and located near public transportation hubs. Once students and faculty are registered, they can use the GPS on their smartphones to locate the nearest Dash parking corral on their map.
After they’ve reached the corral, drivers simply unplug the charger, use the phone app to unlock the Dash and begin their trip with the push of a button. Once they return the Dash to the corral, drivers plug it back in, giving it up to 100 miles per charge.
While the Dash is known for providing a convenient, safe and fun way for students and faculty to move around campus, it’s quickly gaining recognition for two things it doesn’t provide: emissions with capital investment.
The Dash has been tested on university campuses and is proven to reduce costs, carbon emissions and wait times and increase student satisfaction.
“It’s more than a safe and easy electric car sharing program,” said Roman Kuropas, CEO and Innova EV founder. “The Dash provides a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution. Each Dash replaces up to 15 private vehicles, reducing carbon emissions and providing more room for urban green space.”
The Dash provides an actionable solution to address many concerns about environmental impact within UIC’s sustainability/climate action plan. Dash users receive texts throughout the year on how their Dash use offsets pounds of carbon dioxide pollution. Each Dash offsets one pound of CO2 per mile driven.
UIC plans on using the Dash to help address its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 from 2004 levels — and to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The Dash is a turnkey program which has zero cost to the universities using it. It provides insurance, charging, parking and maintenance for the entire fleet of vehicles. As more students and faculty use the vehicles, the program fleet grows with more Dash vehicles and charging corrals.
When it comes to meeting sustainability goals for higher education institutions, data means everything. That’s why there are 50 sensors that record data inside and outside every Dash vehicle, with the ability to develop monthly program reports for every campus about how the community works, travels and lives. We share our data with:
This data can also support engineering and environmental research grant applications — plus add weight to academic journal articles. Demographics and customer feedback can guide planning for growth.
The data that Dash collects can help universities earn Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program credit.
STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Participants use this significant system to report on contributions to U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
Want to bring this transportation system to your campus? Visit our resource site to learn more, plus get a complimentary university project plan template to bring this turnkey sustainability solution to your campus.
Innova EV is dedicated to providing universities and cities affordable, zero-emission first- and last-mile mobility. The shared and on-demand service complements other existing transportation options in campuses, cities and neighborhoods. Innova EV, the company behind the Dash, invests in necessary charging infrastructure and cars that reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, improve personal mobility and support current transit investments. The Dash EV is more efficient and convenient than other transportation modes and is greener and takes up significantly less parking space than most cars.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (“AASHE”).