By Brian Shaw, CAPP

I was contacted recently by a group of students interested in starting an airport shuttle service as a sustainability project. They believed they could reduce vehicle trips using TNCs (Uber/Lyft) while providing students a more affordable and cleaner way to get to the region’s airports during academic breaks. After talking to them, I realized they had not considered a critical element of a sustainable program: the financing. They had not secured any funds to subsidize the service or pay for the needed administrative effort needed to organize these trips.

Those of us in higher education should see our roles as not just administrators, but with undergraduate students, as additional educators. We are leaders who work and deal with real-world issues every day, but in an academic setting, we have a unique perspective to share with students interested in sustainability.

Thanks to my interaction as well as support from my colleagues in the sustainability program and student affairs, these eager students will go back to the drawing board. We plan to help them determine how best to offer a sustainable effort that helps the planet and improves the quality of life of users, but is also financially viable. I urge us all to be sustainability educators when the opportunity arises.

Brian Shaw, CAPP, is executive director of parking and transportation services at Stanford University.