Getting on board with transportation options
The Undergraduate Student Senate passed a resolution last Tuesday that recommended extending the Campus Cruiser hours of operation. The timing could not be more appropriate, considering the tragedy that took the life of USC Adrianna Bachan just one year ago.
The freshman from Montecito, Calif., was a victim of a hit-and-run accident that occurred in the early hours of March 29, 2009, as she was crossing Jefferson Boulevard with fellow student Marcus Garfinkle — who survived the accident — on her way home from The Row. As a friend and former sorority sister of Bachan, I cannot help but wonder how different things would be if she and Garfinkle had another way of getting home that night.
Campus Cruiser currently operates from 5 p.m. to 2:45 a.m., seven days a week, and the new resolution proposes the services be extended an hour longer. The Undergraduate Student Government began looking at this issue in the fall when a survey of presidents and vice presidents of student organizations revealed that 87 percent believed that Campus Cruiser services should run later into the night, especially Thursday through Saturday.
Some opponents argue that extending the hours will encourage students to stay out past this time. This point seems to be directed at students who are out partying, however, and doesn’t consider those who are simply at the library past 2 a.m. Further, this is a college campus; it would be naïve to ignore the fact that many students go out at night and consume alcohol, and those are generally the students who need a ride home.
The majority of debate, however, is centering around the treatment and safety of Campus Cruiser employees. The program, now under the management of USC Transportation, is one of the largest student-run, safe ride programs in the country. There are more than 115 employees, 24 Campus Cruiser vehicles, including three hybrids, eight Ford Windstar vans and one van for disabled passengers.
Clearly the Cruiser system is well-functioning and advanced — the problem is that students feel it is their only option, which places an influx of calls and huge burden on student drivers. Extending the hours until 3:45 a.m. is a good idea for students who need the ride, but what about the students giving it?
Is it reasonable to ask some students to drive until 4 a.m. in order to meet the demands of other students who are choosing to stay out that late?
The biggest problem is many students — myself included — are simply oblivious to the other forms of transportation that USC offers. The boundaries of Campus Cruiser are limited. Destinations that are commercial establishments and sporting/special events are prohibited, therefore many students will get dropped off as close to the location as the Cruiser will take them and walk the rest of the way. This again brings up the question of safety; however, I wonder if this would be the first choice of students if there were other options readily available.
Well, there are.
Not only will Yellow Cab Co. take students anywhere within the city of Los Angeles, but the taxis also accept USCard, which is convenient for those who would prefer to use discretionary funds.
“I cannot believe I just found out that is an option two months before I graduate. I would give anything to have known that four years ago,” said Joe Houston, a senior majoring in sociology, when informed about the ability to use USCard to pay for Yellow Cab Co.
Another option students know little about is the tram system, including a shuttle that leaves The Lab and the 901 Bar & Grill every 30 minutes for L.A. Live on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Plenty of students would use the service to get to L.A. Live and back had they known it was available.
And for students worried about safely getting home after late night study sessions, there are trams that leave from Leavey Library every 15 to 30 minutes, 24 hours a day.
Clearly then, there are other options for students beyond Campus Cruiser — I just don’t think students know or feel safe about using them.
Extending the hours of the Cruiser program isn’t a bad idea if the drivers are willing to do so, but it seems that many are opposed to the resolution. Perhaps USC should focus on advertising the versatility and safety of its tram system as well as the ability to use USCard for Yellow Cab Co. rather than further burdening the Campus Cruiser program with an entire campus’ transportation needs.
One of the biggest complaints of Angelenos is traffic, yet as a whole we are still resistant to utilizing public transportation. USC’s transportation system is a well-
functioning fleet, but students seem wary to hop onboard.
USG should focus on appeasing those fears by promoting every transportation resource so students can utilize what’s available for safe, efficient and reliable services to, from and around campus because no student should ever feel that walking home is their only choice.
Sara Escalante is a senior majoring in political science.