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Alternative transportation programs grow to meet increased demand by students, employees

November 11, 2016

A student repairs her bicycle repair at Virginia Tech's Hokie Bike Hub.
A student repairs her bicycle at Virginia Tech's Hokie Bike Hub.

As Virginia Tech’s student enrollment continues to grow, the university is working to make alternative transportation a viable option for students, employees, and community members.

“Focusing on sustainable forms of transportation can also have positive health benefits, reduce impacts on student fees and parking costs (through decreased demand for costly infrastructure), and help mitigate congestion on campus,” said Mackenzie Jarvis, manager of alternative transportation in the Office of Parking and Transportation Services.

These alternative transportation programs also support Virginia Tech’s commitment to reaching a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020, improving energy efficiency whenever possible in campus buildings, achieving a minimum LEED rating of silver for all new construction, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

On foot

The Blacksburg campus has 20 miles of sidewalks with many crosswalks and signal-controlled crossings and has recently approved a set of campus-wide crosswalk standards.

Individuals can access the Huckleberry Trail from multiple trailheads near campus. The roughly seven-mile nature path connects the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library on Draper Road in Blacksburg to the Christiansburg Recreation Center in Christiansburg. Each year, thousands of people walk, bike, run, shoot nature photography, and sightsee along the trail.

By bike

The Blacksburg campus is recognized nationally as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University. It has designated bike lanes, five bike fix-it stations, and hundreds of bike racks.

Shared-lane bicycle pavement markings, called "sharrows," on Drillfield Drive increase awareness, making traveling safer for bicyclists and motorists.

The Hokie Bike Hub gives students and employees a place to work with a trained assistant to learn how to perform maintenance on their personal bikes and borrow tools. All bicycles must be registered online. Registration is free.

Vehicles available on-demand

Individuals who would like access to a car on-demand can take advantage of the university’s partnership with Zipcar. There are currently four cars parked on campus that are available to anyone with a valid driver’s U.S. or international license. The cars are parked in Squires Lot and on the Drillfield and can be reserved online.

Although the university does not work directly with Uber and Lyft, both companies have drivers in Blacksburg, and community members can sign up to either drive or ride with either company online.

In groups

Individuals who wish to carpool can take advantage of the following programs to get to and from campus:

  • Carpooling saves money on parking and gas. Two or more commuter/graduate students or full-time faculty/staff (eligible for pre-tax deduction) can register for a carpool permit, which includes one carpool permit, access to reserved carpool parking spaces, five free daily passes per participant (participants may also purchase additional daily passes), and access to an Emergency Ride Home service.
  • Zimride and RIDE Solutions both have programs that help pair Virginia Tech employees/students with each other to establish carpools.
  • Vanpooling is available to full–time, permanent employees. Participants have access to reserved parking spaces and discounted gas, as well as access to an Emergency Ride Home service. Maintenance for the van is included in the program which is processed pretaxed through payroll deduction. Seats are currently open in the Pulaski County and Roanoke vanpools.

All of the above

Students and employees who enjoy the flexibility of riding a bike or bus and walking as their primary means of commuting to campus can participate in the Bike, Bus, and Walk program. Blacksburg Transit or Smart Way monthly passes can be purchased from Parking Services for a 25 percent discount.

Participants receive 15 discounted daily passes per semester or 30 per year (participants may also purchase additional, full-cost daily passes) and access to an Emergency Ride Home service.

For more information or to provide feedback about the university’s alternative transportation program send an email to