In a year that found the majority of the campus population working and learning remotely, UCLA Transportation’s annual State of the Commute report showed that changing commuting is one way to diminish the campus’s carbon footprint.
With approximately 70% of all UCLA employees working from home and nearly 77% of UCLA students learning remotely, daily trips to campus dropped from 67,000 daily commuters in 2019 to a little more than 19,000 people commuting to campus in 2020.
A hybrid schedule that trims commutes to two or three days per week, or a few departments with 100% of employees telecommuting, results in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for each telecommuting employee of 1.73 metric tons each year, according to UCLA Transportation.
The department will continue supporting remote work arrangements, providing resources for UCLA’s telecommuting guide. The benefits of remote work include not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions but simultaneously addressing parking demand.
The sustainability gains didn’t stop there. Two new programs gave graduate students greener transportation options. Bruin Grad Pass allows graduate students to take unlimited bus and rail rides through Los Angeles at no cost. And the graduate student bike rentals program provides free bike rentals at various graduate student housing locations.
The top university fleet in the nation acquired three new zero-emissions vehicles, including shuttle buses used by UCLA’s hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica, and a van that provides paratransit service and evening transportation around campus. The steady conversion to alternative fuel sources saves nearly 5,000 gallons of fuel and an estimated 71.17 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
UCLA Transportation also partnered with EVgo to install Level-3 fast-charging stations in Parking Structure 4 and Parking Lot 36. A 30-minute charge at an EVgo station can power up to 90 miles. In the time it takes to eat lunch or run errands in Westwood or go to class or a meeting on campus, an 80% charge can be achieved, allowing drivers to travel even farther.
There are more than 300 different charging stations across campus now, and that number will more than double to 800 within the next few years.
Roadway enhancements completed while campus was quiet pave the way for better bicycle riding — which translates to safer streets for motorists and pedestrians, too. The northbound designated bike lane on Westwood Plaza was extended to Gateway Plaza in central campus. New shared-lane markings on the southbound side of Westwood Plaza were installed to guide bicyclists leaving campus.
As UCLA readies for more faculty, staff and students coming to campus, the department is gearing up by facilitating contactless payments for parking permits, providing additional remote work resources, and promoting safe and sustainable commuting programs.
“No matter the circumstances, the department’s commitment stays the same: to support the campus community with options that get Bruins where they need to be,” said Lisa Koerbling, interim director of UCLA Transportation.