Andy Furillo: Smart Transportation Solutions Beyond Car Storage for UC San Diego

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Getting to and around campus can be a challenge. Fortunately, UC San Diego is currently soliciting input on transportation options for the campus through the online portal IdeaWave.

The transportation conversation on IdeaWave started by asking the campus their views on parking, though I hope our university’s collective ingenuity will not get stuck there.

I am currently a Master’s candidate at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy. As a passionate transit and bicycle rider, I have also chosen to volunteer some of my time as a researcher with Circulate San Diego, a local policy advocacy nonprofit whose mission is to create excellent mobility choices and vibrant, healthy neighborhoods.

Car storage exists as a component, and consequence, of the broader campus transportation ecosystem. I recently co-authored a letter from Circulate San Diego to the UC San Diego administration suggesting  a variety of other non-car tools that can be used to minimize the need for new parking. Instead, we should provide cheaper, faster, more convenient, and more environmentally friendly alternatives to adding more car traffic within and around UC San Diego.

Our full letter can be accessed here: http://www.circulatesd.org/ucsd.

Improving non-car transportation choices will help achieve UC San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, and the UC System’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative. As UC San Diego is one of the region’s largest commute generators, improvements to non-car transportation choices will also help the City of San Diego reach the ambitious goals outlined in its own Climate Action Plan. As an important employer and center of excellence in the region, UC San Diego has an opportunity to lead by example on smart transportation choices.

Looking ahead, simply adding new on-campus parking or lowering prices will do little to alleviate congestion or reduce commuters’ stress levels. Increased supply of such auto-centric infrastructure leads to increased driving until traffic and parking difficulties are as severe as before, if not worse.

Better multi-modal access to the campus would go a long way towards improving regional connectivity.  We are very encouraged by recent campus-area transportation improvements such as upgrades to MTS bus services, construction of the Gilman Transit Center, and opening of bike paths west of Library Walk and along Hopkins Lane. The opening of the Mid-Coast Trolley Extension later this decade will further diversify the methods students, faculty, staff, and visitors use to access campus.

To build upon the connectivity this new infrastructure will provide, we have developed several further suggestions. These include:

  1. Separate rights-of-way for pedestrians, bikes, and cars
  2. Improve connectivity between graduate student housing and campus
  3. Work with MTS to ease overcrowding on the SuperLoop bus routes (201/202)
  4. Subsidize transit for faculty and staff
  5. Start a “Safe Routes to Campus” initiative
  6. Improve connectivity between Sorrento Valley Station and campus
  7. Work with the city to reduce minimum parking requirements for neighborhoods adjacent to campus

Circulate’s full letter includes further details on our suggestions, information about prior studies UC San Diego has done, and examples of successful projects in other parts of the region.

We are looking forward to contributing to the conversation on campus about transportation choices. Other members of the campus community can join us and provide comments about how to improve transportation around campus by visiting the UC San Diego IdeaWave submission page.

Andy Furillo is a Master’s candidate at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy and volunteer researcher with Circulate San Diego.

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