Exploring the sights, sounds and tastes of Downtown Los Angeles will soon be easier for USC students. The Undergraduate Student Government, USC Transportation and LA Live have finalized plans for a free shuttle running from campus to the nearby sports and entertainment venues.
“I think it’s really important to know that we now have a safe and reliable way for students to plug into the Downtown entertainment and night scene,” USG President Holden Slusher said. “I’m really excited for students to get out and take advantage of Los Angeles. It’s going to be great for students to have this diverse opportunity.”
The shuttle will start running on Nov. 6, stopping at Figueroa Street in front of The Lab and on a private street between the Staples Center and the Nokia Theatre, said Tony Mazza, director of USC Transportation.
Departing every 30 minutes, the shuttle is scheduled to make the 2.5-mile trek to LA Live on Fridays from 6 p.m. to
2 a.m., on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. and on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Funding for the shuttle will come solely from LA Live, Mazza said, though USC Transportation will provide the necessary bus and drivers.
“There’s a mutual benefit. [LA Live] gets to tap into a market that could potentially not be going to LA Live, and we get an opportunity to provide a safe ride to our students so they can enjoy a part of Downtown Los Angeles that they would not have normally enjoyed,” Mazza said. “This is something that we wanted to do, but our budget couldn’t support it, so we
needed to find a way we could provide the benefit but defray the cost.”
Changes in the shuttle’s schedule, along with the potential addition of more shuttles to LA Live, could take place in the future depending on student feedback and demand.
Although the shuttle is scheduled to run every weekend, it may have to cease operation when streets around LA Live close because of high-profile events and awards shows.
They are also considering not running the shuttle over the Thanksgiving and winter breaks, Mazza added.
Bringing an LA Live shuttle to USC has been a point of discussion among USG, USC Transportation and LA LIVE officials since last year, said Helen Moser, USG’s director of campus affairs.
“This was something that was started with the last administration. This is something they had talked about and really wanted to push,” Moser said. “As soon as USG saw there was this great venue next to campus that students would want to go to, we started looking into the idea of offering transportation for that.”
On Sept. 1, USG conducted a survey to gauge student interest in a shuttle to LA Live. After 97 percent of the 1,767 respondents said they would take advantage of a shuttle if it were available, USG officials partnered with USC Transportation to make it a reality, Moser said.
Although previous meetings with LA Live officials had been unsuccessful, USG and USC Transportation approached the company again and resumed negotiations. Having recently undergone a change in management, LA Live was more receptive to the idea and ultimately agreed to fund the shuttle’s operation, Mazza said.
“There’s a buzz on campus about it. I think that LA Live opens up a whole new opportunity for [students] to get a bite to eat, to catch a movie, to explore — even if they only spend a couple hours there. I really think people will take advantage of it,” Mazza said.
Many students said they are looking forward to using the shuttle, primarily because of its convenience and safety.
“It definitely gives us a lot more options now, especially those of us who don’t have a car,” said Sarah Hivner, a junior majoring in fine arts. “It’s nice to have a USC bus. It’s nice knowing you’re getting on the right bus and not worrying.”
But Laila Ekboir, a senior majoring in English, said she believes the shuttle limits students’ entertainment options to LA Live and is unnecessary because there are other means of public transportation.
“The tram is for people who are afraid to take the Dash, which goes to LA Live anyway. The Dash is reliable,” Ekboir said. “USC should eradicate those irrational fears and help the city advertise the [public transportation] service.”
Moser said she still anticipates the shuttle will improve campus life and hopes its launch will create stronger ties between USG, the administration and the student body.
“It shows the administration really listens to what students want,” she said. “It’s going to be great momentum for us for other projects we’ll be taking on.”