Ever wish Los Angeles traffic moved better? It might if more commuters followed UCLA's example by using more alternative transportation and fewer cars.
Although more than 70 percent of commuters in Los Angeles County drive alone in their own cars each day, data released this month revealed that only 51 percent of UCLA employees drive alone. That's a difference of hundreds of thousands of annual car trips at UCLA. Imagine if all Southern California freeways had that many fewer cars.
The Clean Air Commuter Survey, an annual project by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, was administered by UCLA Events and Transportation from March to June. The survey also found that for the first time in UCLA history, more commuting students walk to campus than drive. Nearly 75 percent of students are alternative commuters.
The number of car trips in and out of UCLA has declined steadily since 2003, and is lower now than it was in 1990. The dramatic increase in the use of alternative transportation by UCLA students, staff and faculty is partly the result of a sustained campaign by UCLA's transportation department to encourage alternative commuting methods like public transit, vanpools, biking and walking.
"We greatly appreciate our green commuters here at UCLA and encourage others to join in the effort to improve the environment and reduce traffic," said Renée Fortier, the executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation. "From 2012 to 2013, the campus had a reduction of nearly 92,000 drive-alone trips to campus. For the first time ever, UCLA is within striking distance of our Climate Action Plan goal of having 50 percent of employees using alternative transportation."
Through its transportation department, UCLA offers subsidies on bus fares, maintains a fleet of vans for shared rides, grants parking discounts to carpoolers and motorcyclists, gives out perks through its Bruin Commuter Club, and provides discounted access to Zipcars for alternative commuters who need a car for a day.
During the 2013 survey, 51.2 percent of employees drove alone, compared with 53.4 percent in 2012 (see table). The change was largely due to increases in the number of employees walking and biking to campus, with 13 percent of employees walking and 3 percent biking. Public-transit riders made up the largest portion of alternative commuters, at 14.6 percent, followed by walkers, carpoolers, vanpoolers, bikers, telecommuters and motorcyclists.
Among commuting students (see pie chart), 27.5 percent walk to campus, edging out the 25.4 percent who drive alone. Another 22.4 percent take public transit, 9.6 percent take the university's "Bruin Bus," and 5.5 percent bike. Many of the remaining commuters carpool or ride motorcycles, and a few take advantage of transit options you won't see in the employee data: motorized and unmotorized scooters.