UCLA has cut the number of available student parking permits this fall by hundreds, leaving nearly 1,000 students on the waitlist hoping to be able to drive to class.
Those on the waitlist – many of them transfer or nontraditional students – have resorted to frantic searches for spots in Westwood, or have had to offer big checks to others who can sell them space on campus.
The cut was made to accommodate a growing number of faculty and staff commuters – most of whom are given priority when distributing parking passes. However, this reduction could not have come at a worse time – as UCLA has grown, so too has its commuting class. In fact, from 2008 to 2013, the number of students commuting to campus increased by 5,000.
This leaves UCLA Transportation in the unenviable position of having to accommodate both a growing number of students and faculty. Yet that is not an excuse. This is their job. As such, UCLA Transportation must make clear its plan to remedy this situation, and set a timeline for which that plan will be made available for public critique.
According to UCLA Transportation’s 2014 “State of the Commute” report, of the 30,000 students that commute to campus, 20 percent drive alone, while only 6.3 percent use vanpool and carpool to get to campus. If UCLA Transportation wants to be proactive, it could work to identify students that live in the same areas and pair them in an attempt to lessen the volume of cars traveling on its streets everyday.
Additionally, the organization could more effectively inform those affected of their options and make an effort to individually counsel students on what their most efficient transportation option is. Right now, those rejected from parking passes were just treated to a terse emails asking them to bike or bus to class.
UCLA Transportation does, in fact, do a good job of offering alternatives to students, and having to mediate a competition between a growing faculty and student commuting population does pose a challenge. However, this crucial part of the campus apparatus is doing itself no favors by leaving a group of students – many of whom already struggle to integrate themselves into campus life – alone and without guidance.
UCLA Transportation can’t make up for failing to see the writing on the wall – or in this case, the extra cars on the street. However, this series of events has provided the agency with the opportunity to turn this into a lesson on sustainability and alternative transport. Without tackling this proactively, UCLA may find itself out of options as well.