CHAPTER 2: Postal Code Data and Student Survey

2.1 Methodology


2.1.1 Research Problem and Questions

This paper attempts to deal with the implementation of a universal bus pass, to allow students inexpensive access to public transport, and to increase student participation in an alternative mode of transport as a step towards sustainability. Although there are few problems with the existing public transportation system, the fundamental problem lies within the effects of the chosen transportation method on the environment. With this perspective it is desirable to sway students maintaining an automobile, as the principle mode of transport, to using more ecologically friendly modes of transport, such as walking, biking, or the public transportation system. In essence, the issue will be analyzed from the perspective that the bus system is a more sustainable method of transport, and by the principle modes of transport currently used by students entering and leaving the university campus.

The report will attempt to answer the following:

Student attitudes and awareness towards the proposed universal bus pass;

The amount that student drivers carpool;

The principle mode of transport to and from the university;

The distances and time students travel using their preferred method;

Student perception with regards to the level of convenience the current public transportation system offers; and

Would the use of the WATCARD for a bus pass increase student ridership?


2.1.2 Postal Code Data

To gain accurate insight into student population density around the periphery of the campus, postal codes of all students in Kitchener-Waterloo were obtained from the University of Waterloo Computing Services. Although all students in attendance for 1995-1996 fall and winter term did not submit their new postal code address, this information does give valuable insight into the majority of student population density.

2.1.3 Survey Methodology

The purpose of the study was to investigate the desirability of renewing Kitchener Transit's attempt at the installation of a universal bus pass system for the students at the University of Waterloo. The study was intended to obtain and gather the information necessary to revamp and focus the proposal submitted by Kitchener Transit. To complete a full study, for this purpose, would have been extremely time consuming. Further, it would require a response from at least 370 students to ensure a confidence level of 95 percent (Abbey, 1982, p. 73). The intention of the CTC is to produce a living document obtaining information pertinent to future groups researching transportation issues, and/or the possibility of universal transit passes. Thus, for this project, a pilot study was suitable to evaluate student perceptions, transport habits, and attitudes. Such a study can provide valuable introductory information, generate financial and administrative support, and evaluate the necessity to continue and conduct further research.

An accidental sampling technique was utilized for the survey portion of data gathering. This technique involves random interviews at selected locations across campus in an attempt to achieve a stratified random sample of the student population. A total of 269 interviews were held during the last two weeks of March. The buildings selected on campus were: Student Life Centre, Burt Mathews Hall, Davis Centre, South Campus Hall, and the open area between the Environmental Studies and Arts Lecture Hall buildings. Interviewers were instructed to reduce bias through: low emphasis questioning, conducting interviews on days with like weather, and at same times throughout the day. Interviewers approached students, introduced themselves and the purpose of this study, and asked the respondents to voluntarily participate in the CTC Survey.

After all of the data was collected, it was transformed into coding sheets and placed into tables (see Appendix 2) and analyzed. A special transformation was completed for the results based on the question: 'Where do you live according to the map?'. To retrieve accurate distance information, concentric circles were drawn around the campus on a local city map (see Appendix 3). Each circle represented a distance of 500 metres; up to 3000 metres. Respondents were asked to identify the circle from within which they lived. The results derived from each question in the survey are displayed graphically in section 2.2.1.


2.2 Postal Code Data Results


Figure 1.0 displays the distribution of students by postal code for the regions of most significant densities. The N2L postal region is the most populated area with over half of the student postal codes falling within this region.


2.2.1 Survey Results


Figure 2.0 shows the results from Question 1 in the survey: "Are you aware of the current proposal for a universal bus pass system submitted to the Federation of Students?" The results indicate that over half of the students surveyed did not know about the proposal.


Figure 2.1 displays the results of Question 2 in the survey. The purpose of this question was to derive an idea about students usual mode of transportation to and from the university. Almost half of the students sampled indicated that they walked to school, while the second most popular response was driving.


Figure 2.2 represents the responses to Question 2a in the survey. From this question, the results indicate that almost three-quarters of the respondents who drive usually drive alone.


Figure 2.3 depicts the results obtained from Question 2b. From the results it can be observed that over half of the respondents only carpool with one passenger, followed by over one quarter who drive with two occupants.


Figure 2.4 displays the results obtained from Question 3 in the survey. The results indicate that half of the sampled students live between 1001-2000 meters from the school, while the rest of the respondents fall above and below this distance.


Figure 2.5 represents the responses to Question 4 in the survey. The results indicate that the majority of students live between 11 to 20 minutes away from the school when utilizing their primary mode of transportation.


Figure 2.6 displays the responses from Question 5 in the survey. From this question, the results indicate that slightly under three-quarters of the respondents felt Kitchener Transit's current system is either somewhat or not convenient.


Figure 2.7 represents the responses obtained from Question 6 in the survey. The results indicate that well over half of the students sampled would use Kitchener Transit more often if the WATCARD gave unlimited access to the bus system.


Figure 2.8 displays the responses to Question 9 in the survey. The results that over half of the students surveyed were in their second and third year of study.


2.3 Analysis of Results

Postal Code Data

The postal code data indicated that approximately 57% (not including residence) of students live in the N2L postal code region. This area stretches from the university to about 2.5 kilometers away from campus. Within this region some improvements in the transit system would help to create a pipeline feeding to areas of downtown Waterloo and U.W. itself. These improvements in this key area, where student density is highest, could quite possibly sway students in the area away from driving their vehicle to school. This would save students money, provide Kitchener Transit with much needed revenue, and most importantly relieve some of the burden imposed on the environment due to vehicular congestion.

Survey Data

One of the most important purposes of this paper is to provide a "living document" that will highlight areas requiring further research, while attempting to clarify key issues for Kitchener Transit and the Federation of Students. From the survey, it became clear that many students are unaware of the proposal. Only 44% of 269 students that were sampled knew anything about the proposal. This indicates that a referendum on the universal bus pass system at this time would be in vain, because when most people are uninformed about something, they have no opinion, and will not vote. Therefore, a referendum at present would be unrepresentative of the needs of the student populace as a whole.

Previous studies have been conducted at the University of Waterloo to determine students most frequent mode of transportation to U.W. The results of the CTC's survey with respect to student transportation modes are similar to the "Transportation to and from Campus" conducted by Helen Daniels et al.(1991) In this study as well as ours, it became clear that walking was the primary method used by students to get to the university (43% in the CTC survey). The second most utilized mode was discovered to be the automobile, with 24% of our sampled population driving most of the time.

With increasing sustainability on campus being the main interest of the CTC, we felt it necessary to probe drivers even further to understand how efficiently they were using their cars. When asked if they drive alone most of the time, 72% out of 64 drivers indicated that this was true. "Even a highly fuel-efficient car is inefficiently used when it carries only the driver..." therefore to avoid environmental degradation this mode of transportation should be avoided if possible.(Brown, 1989 p.104) Further, of those that do drive with other people, we discovered that 62% out of 18 people only have one passenger. The cost to the student as well as the environmental costs could be reduced if these few students in our sample were persuaded to make use of transit instead of driving alone.

Another area of interest was the distance that students lived from campus. The results derived from the survey indicate that close to half of the students at U.W. live between 1 km to 2 km away. When asked how long, using their usual mode of transportation, it takes them to get to class over half felt it took them between 11-20 minutes. This data alone shows that most students live a considerable distance away from campus (especially during poor weather conditions). The universal bus pass system coupled with service improvements may prove to be a corner stone in convincing drivers to take the bus, while making those who walk or ride their bike a little more comfortable during a rainstorm.

The perception of students with regards to the current level of convenience offered by the Kitchener Transit system was significantly one sided. Out of 146 students who opted to respond to this question, 72% felt that it is not convenient. This poses some challenges for Kitchener Transit. If the service is not improved or some indication as to where and how it will be improved is not given, it appears that the universal bus pass proposal will undoubtedly be shelved for quite some time.

On a more positive note, it appears that students would use the bus more frequently if their WATCARD gave them unlimited access to the bus. Of the total sample, 68% indicated that they would increase their use of the transit system. This large percentage indicates that maybe even drivers can be persuaded to ride transit.


2.4 Limitations of the Study

The survey was small in comparison to the university population. With only 269 people sampled, the survey only represents 1.6% of all students a UW. Due to the time consuming nature of interviewing people, a much longer study period is required.

Also, without much knowledge of Kitchener Transits plans for the new revenue, it is very difficult to re-initiate negotiation with the Federation of Students.

Chapter 3: Recommendations and Barriers
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Last Modified: 12-04-96