Friday, January 18

Transportation report finds UCLA traffic lowest in two decades

More and more each year, commuting students and employees at UCLA have turned away from driving in favor of alternative methods of transportation as a way to get to campus, according to a recent transportation report.

According to the annual UCLA “State of the Commute” Report, stand-alone driving for students is just more than 25 percent, and less than 53 percent for employees. On the other hand, 72 percent of all Los Angeles commuters drive to work.

With the help of transportation alternatives such as public transit, carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling and walking, UCLA has reached its lowest levels of traffic in two decades, said Dave Karwaski, director of UCLA Transportation.

To reduce campus traffic, UCLA and Los Angeles county made an agreement in 1990 to keep the number of vehicles at the university below 139,500.

Magnetic loops were installed on the different streets leading onto campus, which allow transportation officials to count the amount of cars that pass over the loops every day to gauge their progress in reducing traffic.

Each week, the average number of vehicles going through campus every weekday is calculated.

In October, the overall average for the year is found using these weekly averages.

Even though UCLA has long reached its goal to reduce traffic, the school continues to strive to lower the vehicle count, since Westwood is one of the most heavily congested cities in the country, Karwaski said.

Karwaski attributed the reduced traffic to a variety of transportation options available to campus commuters. Public transit, which includes buses and subways, is the most popular alternative among campus commuters, with 30 percent of students and 14 percent of employees using this form, according to the transportation report.

Karwaski also said the university’s efforts to make these options accessible have also helped reduce traffic. UCLA has agreements with different transportation agencies around Los Angeles, which allows the school to provide incentives for commuters to take public transportation, such as subsidized bus passes.

Filip Iliev, a fifth-year electrical engineering student who drives to campus, said traffic on campus is not as bad as the rest of Los Angeles.

“It’s not really (congested) around Westwood; the main problem is the 405,” he said. “In the morning around 8 it’s not that bad at all, but it does get hectic around noon.”

But some commuters said they still feel more could be done.

Ramone Raz, an employee at the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center, drives to campus in the mornings. He said traffic is often congested around mid-morning.

“(Traffic on campus) depends on my schedule,” Raz said.

“In the early morning, there is no traffic, but around 9 to 10 a.m., it gets very congested.”

But Karwaski said there is a subjective experience to traffic, so people may not feel traffic has reduced, despite the transportation department’s statistics.

“The numbers, however, do bear evidence that traffic is indeed lower now more than ever,” he said.

To reduce vehicle traffic even further, UCLA Transportation is focusing on making the campus more bicycle-friendly, Karwaski said.

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