In two-and-a-half months, a light-rail line is coming to Westwood, but some extraordinarily small barriers might still keep many students from using the resource.
The closest stop on the new Expo Line will open on May 20 near Westside Pavilion, less than a 10-minute drive from UCLA.
Though this might not seem far, it could be inaccessible for many that don’t have a car.
Although the Big Blue Bus system will connect the campus to Expo Line stations, the community would benefit from UCLA Transportation operating a free shuttle between the campus and the station. This small addition can make the Expo Line more accessible to students, allowing them to take greater advantage of this new resource.
Students have been looking forward to the new lines being added by the Los Angeles County Metro which will allow for reasonably priced transportation to many places. Though the Purple Line will run under Wilshire Boulevard and stop in Westwood, it will not be ready until 2024. That’s why more attention has been given to the new Expo Line which will arrive in spring quarter.
The line will connect Westwood to the light-rail system that extends as far west as Santa Monica and as far east as Azusa. It, under the right conditions, could cut travel from UCLA to downtown Los Angeles by about 20 minutes.
Soon, community members will not have to dread the traffic on the 10 Freeway just attend a game in Downtown.
Unfortunately, getting to the stop could prove to be a problem for some. Biking might be a reasonable choice, but since a bike lane isn’t likely to show up in Westwood any time soon, it just might not be safe.
In an email statement, Alison Hewitt, a spokesperson for the university, said “When the Expo Line opens, UCLA Transportation will help Bruins learn that they will be able to connect to the new line at the Westwood Boulevard station just south of Pico Boulevard by catching either the Big Blue Bus Line 8 or Line 12, or the Expo Line’s station on Sepulveda Boulevard, also just south of Pico Boulevard, by catching the Culver CityBus Line 6 or Rapid 6.”
As of now, UCLA Transportation has a deal with both the Big Blue Bus and the Culver CityBus in which students can purchase a single-ride ticket for 50 cents, or a quarterly pass for less than half the regular price. This is clearly how students are expected to get to the newly expanded line.
However, though might not seem like much, any fee can deter community members from accessing the line. Moreover, the Big Blue Bus lines are often oversaturated with demand, and they include many stops on the way to any location.
Offering a free shuttle would provide an even better experience, and would maximize the investments made by Metro for the benefit of those living in Westwood, at least until the Purple Line is complete.
Most importantly, operating a shuttle won’t take much effort from UCLA Transportation. It can simply extend one of the existing campus lines, or provide one shuttle dedicated to connecting to the Expo Line.
UCLA Housing is doing a lot, including operating a Saturday shuttle between the Hill and interest points around Los Angeles such as The Grove, to connect students and rest of the community to the city. This can be another way for the transportation to help the UCLA community break out of the West LA bubble.