December 16, 2021
VIA E-Mail and U.S. Mail
Ms. Anna Chamberlin
Manager, Project Review
District Department of Transportation
55 M Street, SE, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20003
Dear Ms. Chamberlin:
The purpose of this letter is to provide your office with parking space utilization information for American University (AU) in accordance with the requirements set forth by the Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia, as well as provide an update regarding additional transportation demand management (TDM) measures that the American University has undertaken since the approval of the 2011 Campus Plan.
The Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia approved the American University 2011 Campus Plan in Zoning Order No. 11-07 with certain conditions. Specifically, Condition 14 states:
“The University shall provide DDOT with annual reports on parking utilization that reflect the number of non-carpool passes sold each year relative to the number of full-time equivalent employee and the number of occupied spaces on a typical weekday.”
In addition, American University 2011 Campus Plan, Zoning Order No. 11-07B for the Washington College of Law/Tenley Campus, Condition 3 requires certain TDM monitoring reports. Please note that the AU TDM program is managed as one overarching comprehensive strategy. Therefore, this letter will provide total program statistical information contained in both Orders.
As you are aware, American University was granted a waiver from filing this report in 2020 due to the impact the pandemic had on the operations of the university. In March 2020, the university transitioned to remote learning and working for all students, faculty, and staff and the campus was essentially closed. This change in operating status caused disruption to all aspects of the university parking and transportation demand management operations. Therefore, statistical data needed to prepare a comprehensive and substantive report to DDOT was unavailable. 2
In August 2021, the university transitioned to Modified Operations and reinstituted face-to-face instruction, reopened the residence halls, restarted athletics activities, and brought the workforce back in a controlled manner. Therefore, the parking and transportation demand management data contained in this report covers a modified period beginning August 1, 2021, when the campus essentially re-opened and ending December 1, 2021. As such, many of the data points are heavily skewed and should not be used as a year-to-year comparative analysis of required performance measures.
American University currently maintains an inventory of approximately 2,318 parking spaces which includes Main Campus, East Campus, and the Washington College of Law (WCL) only. On a typical semester weekday, AU’s parking demand is approximately 48% of the available parking inventory. During peak demand, parking surveys have indicated that AU has approximately 1,206 spaces available for use.
In addition to the aforementioned parking locations identified in the Zoning Order, AU maintains parking inventory at the following AU-owned locations: 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; 4401 Connecticut Avenue, NW; 3201 New Mexico Avenue, NW; and, 4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. We also lease parking spaces at 4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW. AU will continue to monitor parking availability and provide updated utilization rates in future reports.
As of December 2021, American University has a total of 2,587 full-time equivalent employees (FTE). The total number of employees who are enrolled in the parking permit program through payroll deduction each month is 580, of which 61 work at WCL. Please note that this number includes employees who park at the additional parking locations away from Main Campus, East Campus, and WCL.
Condition No. 13 of Zoning Commission Order No. 11-07 describes the TDM measures that American University agreed to implement during the 2011 Campus Plan and Condition No. 3 of Zoning Commission Order No. 11-07B requires monitoring reports. The information provided below discusses additional TDM measures that American University has undertaken since the 2011 Campus Plan Order as well as reporting on standing programs:
1) Pay-As-You-Go Parking Program: AU community members are eligible to sign up for a discounted code to be utilized with the PayByPhone application to park in general parking areas on campus. The program is intended to supplant the monthly fixed rate fee option by providing community members with greater flexibility in planning their commute, allowing them to only pay for the amount of time they will be on campus, and incentivizing them to drive only when needed.
2) On Demand Corporate Ride Service: A survey found that faculty, staff, and non-resident students were driving personal vehicles to campus every day in order to have reliable, efficient transportation to conduct university business off campus throughout the day. In order to address this transportation need and, in turn, reduce the number of vehicles being driven to campus, AU has contracted with Lyft to establish the American University Lyft Ride Smart Program, a corporate ride service program. This program replaces the previous corporate car-sharing program. 3
3) AU/WMATA U*Pass Program: In August 2016, AU became the first university in the region to partner with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to offer a discounted transit pass during each semester for all full-time undergraduate, graduate, and law students. The U*Pass is included in the cost of attendance for approximately 10,500 eligible students and allows for unlimited rides on all MetroRail and MetroBus routes throughout the region. The availability of the U*Pass has significantly reduced the number of vehicle trips to campus by students and, in turn, reduced the traffic congestion in the area. The U*Pass utilization rate among students is over 90%. Between August and December 2021, AU students logged 727,119 total system rides, of which 571,533 were rail trips and 155,586 were bus trips.
4) Carpool Matching: AU has partnered with Commuter Connections, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s carpool matching program, to strengthen and expand sustainable transit and ride-sharing services for our community.
5) Employee-based TDM Strategies: AU continues to offer our employees transit and work schedule options that reduce parking demand, reduce traffic congestion, and/or encourage using public transportation. Examples of these programs include offering WMATA SmartBenefits, flexible work schedules, expanded telecommuting opportunities, and a monetary incentive to promote biking to campus.
Currently, 1,145 AU employees are enrolled in a telecommuting program. Additionally, 34 employees have a compressed work week schedule and 303 are enrolled in flextime. There are 41 employees enrolled in the Bike to Work program. Finally, 273 AU employees are participating in the WMATA SmartBenefits program.
6) Capital BikeShare: Three stations are located adjacent to our campus (1 each at Main Campus, East Campus, and WCL) to serve our community and others in the area and AU has committed to installing a new Bikeshare station on the south side of campus. There are 213 students enrolled in the discount rate program with goDCgo.
7) Commuter Mode Split Survey Results: In September 2021, AU conducted a Commuter Mode Split Survey, inclusive of WCL. This survey is notable because, unlike previous years, it was sent to select students, faculty, and staff in order to obtain more refined responses. The following charts depict the results of the responses: 4
8) Good Neighbor Parking Program: AU continues to enforce the Good Neighbor Parking Policy which requires AU affiliates to park at AU-owned facilities. We have seen greater compliance due to our ongoing efforts. Between August 2021 and December 2021, AU issued 71 citations for suspected violators in the areas near Main Campus, East Campus, the Spring Valley Building, and WCL. To date, all validated violations have been adjudicated through monetary penalties or compliance. The following is a link to the AU Parking Policy: https://www.american.edu/policies/upload/parking-policy-2016-final.pdf
9) Neighborhood Parking Availability/Micromobility: AU has not observed any adverse impact on parking availability in surrounding neighborhoods. Moreover, AU has not received complaints from our neighbors regarding lack of available parking. We are aware of a few incidences of Good Neighbor Program violations and will continue our enforcement efforts to keep violations to a minimum. Further, we are aware of concerns with the number of car-sharing vehicles parking adjacent to Main Campus. While this is lawful based on city regulations and therefore beyond the scope of the Good Neighbor Program, we continually monitor the situation and notify the respective car-sharing services when there are an excessive number of vehicles in the area. Finally, we are aware of concerns regarding the large number of dockless scooters and bicycles that are parked in public spaces near campus. While 5
such actions are permitted by the city, AU will work with our neighbors and DDOT to seek reasonable and measurable solutions to limit community impact.
10) Bicycle Facilities: AU maintains more than 30 exterior and indoor storage facilities and three bicycle repair stations for use by our community. Due to other transportation options, we continue to see a reduction in the use of personal bicycles by resident students.
11) AU Shuttle: AU maintains a robust shuttle service program that connects Main Campus, East Campus, the Spring Valley Building, and WCL with the AU/Tenleytown MetroRail station. Between August 2021 and December 2021, the passenger count for the program was 452,296. AU implemented transit screen technology for its shuttles, which is a live tracking system and mobile phone application that enables students, faculty, staff, and guests to monitor shuttle arrival times.
12) TransitScreen Technology: AU utilizes transit screen technology to display real-time information on all modes of transportation within our TDM program to include Capital Bikeshare, AU Shuttle, RideShare, MetroBus, and MetroRail. Community members can also access this information on their cell phones through a mobile application.
13) RideSharing: AU has taken measures to mitigate traffic congestion on the main thoroughfares caused by ridesharing services by designating ridesharing service locations within the Main Campus, East Campus, and WCL.
14) Electric Vehicle Charging: AU is committed to providing sustainable transportation options as part of our dedication to carbon neutrality. As a demonstration of this commitment, AU provides a total of 18 electric vehicle charging stations at locations on Main Campus, East Campus, and WCL.
Over the past several years, AU has expanded and strengthened its TDM and parking management programs while adhering to the provisions of the respective 2011 Campus Plan zoning orders. During the intensive planning that was required for the development of the 2021 Campus Plan, AU approached the TDM and campus parking components from a new perspective. This paradigm shift defined the TDM program managed by AU but also considered and sought to align with the transportation and development plans for Upper Northwest, D.C.; specifically, Ward 3. In doing so, we explored current and future transportation opportunities.
This new approach involved three important stakeholders: The American University Neighborhood Partnership “Neighborhood Partnership”, DDOT, and the Office of Planning. Most notably, we engaged our neighbors through the Neighborhood Partnership. The Partnership’s goals are to improve community relations between AU and the surrounding neighborhoods and promote community engagement on issues related to university operations. Specifically, the Transportation and Parking Working Group, which is comprised of neighbors and AU officials, meets on a regular basis to assess our current efforts and make recommendations to improve AU and community 6
relationships around this critical topic. The goal is to incorporate recommended improvements and establish key performance indicators that will measure the success of new TDM and parking initiatives. AU also gathers feedback from other neighbor organizations and the respective Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners.
AU has also engaged with DDOT and the Office of Planning to better understand future transportation and development plans for the city in general, and specifically, in Ward 3. Our goal is to align our programs and initiatives with those outlined in plans such as moveDC and the Rock Creek Far West Livability Study, as well as gain an understanding of potential future development along upper Wisconsin Avenue proposed in the Draft Comprehensive Plan.
In closing, we fully understand the pandemic has fundamentally challenged long held perceptions and assumptions surrounding the workforce and the workplace. Specifically, where people work and how business is conducted directly affects the transportation network, commuting options, and parking requirements. American University will continue to closely monitor changes in the teleworking, commuting, and parking choices of our community and offer alternatives to driving to campus through a robust transportation demand management program.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any additional information.
Assistant Vice President
Risk, Safety and Transportation Programs