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Mobilizing for Mobility educates attendees on transportation policy, advocacy

A presenter at the Mobilizing for Mobility event is pictured. Last Thursday’s event was co-hosted by Move LA and the Undergraduate Students Association Council Facilities Commission’s Transportation Equity and Access Committee. (Shane Yu/Daily Bruin staff)

By Gabrielle Siegel

April 22, 2024 8:35 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly left out the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies as a co-host for the Mobilizing for Mobility event.

This post was updated April 25 at 3:52 p.m.

Public transit supporters discussed advocacy strategies at last Thursday’s Mobilizing for Mobility event.

Co-hosted by the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, Move LA and the Undergraduate Students Association Council Facilities Commission’s Transportation Equity and Access Committee, the event focused on universal basic mobility initiatives, transit advocacy and transportation solutions. The event – held at the Luskin School of Public Affairs – also included interactive breakout sessions and presentations from labor and community organizers, students and transportation professionals.

The event aimed to inform and empower attendees by presenting examples of transportation advocacy, said Cora Murray, a co-director of the Transportation Equity and Access Committee.

“This event was really catered at trying to bring people who are interested in transportation into actionable policy,” said Murray, a third-year political science student. “A lot of transportation can get siloed in science and planning, and it doesn’t think about broader questions of equity and the implications of policy.”

Bruins for Better Transit – a student collective that advocates for equitable and accessible transportation – presented at the event about its successful campaign for the Universal Access Transit Pass referendum in 2023. The referendum funded the creation of the Bruin U-Pass, an unlimited public transit pass in Los Angeles for all UCLA undergraduates for a $3.30 fee per quarter.

(Shane Yu/Daily Bruin staff)
The Bruin U-Pass is pictured. Bruins for Better Transit presented at the event about its successful campaign for the Universal Access Transit Pass referendum, which passed in 2023. (Shane Yu/Daily Bruin staff)

[Related: Bruins oust USAC president, pass transit referendum in 2023 election]

The presentation covered the evolution of the referendum, from initial meetings with UCLA Transportation about funding to social media efforts designed to increase voter support. The referendum passed in May of last year with a 93% approval vote, and 19,700 undergraduates ordered a U-Pass in the fall, according to the presentation.

Beyond UCLA, guest presenters highlighted other universal transit pass systems across California.

Devon Deming, who is the deputy executive officer for LA Metro, discussed LA Metro’s GoPass program for K-12 and community college students. Jimmy Mahady, a senior financial analyst at Bay Area Rapid Transit, also spoke about the Clipper BayPass – a pilot program designed to test an all-system pass for students and residents in the Bay Area.

Participation in LA Metro transit programs is up by 42% over the past year, and ridership recently surpassed 36 million boardings, Deming said during the presentation. She added that LA school districts cited the transit passes as a primary reason why chronic absenteeism has decreased by 20% in K-12 schools.

Deming, a UCLA alumnus, said her own experience with public transit drew her to transportation advocacy.

“I didn’t have the support of a family in college, and I literally would not have graduated from UCLA without my daily bus ride to school,” she said. “Not only did it help me graduate from UCLA, but it led to a career in transportation for me, so I’m very grateful to transit for being a part of my life.”

Following an intermission, attendees joined breakout sessions to discuss community organizing, implementation of transit passes, universal basic mobility programs and advocacy.

John Barber III – a member of the Bruin Policy Institute who attended the event – said the transportation and mobility advocacy surrounding the Bruin U-Pass referendum has positively impacted his life as a long-distance commuter by reducing his commuting costs.

Barber III, who is also a third-year political science transfer student, added that he chose to attend UCLA in part to save on housing, something the U-Pass helps with by alleviating his previous commuting costs.

“That $65 isn’t a small chunk of change in the low-income community,” he said. “I feel secure in the fact that I don’t have to worry about this financially.”

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Gabrielle Siegel
Siegel is a 2023-2024 slot editor. She was previously a 2022-2023 Copy staff member and has contributed to News, Sports, Prime and Photo. She is also a fourth-year communication and Spanish student from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
Siegel is a 2023-2024 slot editor. She was previously a 2022-2023 Copy staff member and has contributed to News, Sports, Prime and Photo. She is also a fourth-year communication and Spanish student from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
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