California Community Colleges:
Student Transportation and Carbon Emissions
A project submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
Gregory D. Packin
University of Redlands
Abstract: California’s system of community colleges is the largest system of higher education in the world; it is comprised of 110 college campuses and over 2.5 million students. Each day millions of students make the daily commute to the campuses. This commute impacts the students in the form of time spent commuting as well as the monetary cost of owning and driving an automobile. The commute also has an environmental impact upon the local community. This project focuses on one of those environmental impacts, the carbon emissions from the automobiles. Both the impact upon the students and the impact upon the community are directly linked to the distance of the commute. By performing network analysis within a geographic information system (GIS) to estimate the distances which students travel to campus it was possible to provide estimates of the impact of the commute upon the students and the communities through which they travel. The commute distances were estimated by calculating the quickest routes between the centroids of the ZIP codes in which the students reside and the campus which they attend. The results of this project were presented to the Foundation for California Community Colleges to help in raising awareness of the impact of student commuting, and to support future research and planning.
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