USC Transportation has received the 2011 Innovative Transportation Solutions Award from the Los Angeles Chapter of Women in Transportation for its network of transportation services around campus.
USC was nominated for the award because of its development in large fleet management, the number of trams, a reduced carbon footprint from using biodiesel buses, and alternative ways to get to campus. USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor and WTS Director at Large James E. Moore recommended USC for the award.
The award, which highlights interesting and unique innovations, has generally been given to infrastructure developments, such as the Alameda Corridor, rather than to developments in management, Moore said.
WTS-LA usually considers five to 10 developments for the award each year.
“The closer I looked at what USC is doing, the more impressed I became,” Moore said. “Compared to other universities, USC Transportation services have been genuine leaders in terms of finding useful ways to improve their system. They are very entrepreneurial, and the array of services reflects that.”
Moore nominated USC Transportation in July after having read an article in the spring issue of Trojan Family Magazine which highlighted some of these changes.
“I didn’t realize the full scope of what transportation services was doing. This actually exceeds, in terms of scope, what many communities are doing,” Moore said. “WTS generally allocates awards like these for the public sector, and it is unusual to give them to those in the private sector.”
In the past 18 months, USC Transportation has added or expanded several programs, including the ZipCar program, which allows cars to be rented hourly, and Zimride, a social website for carpooling. Zimride has an area exclusively for USC students, staff and faculty.
USC Transportation has also purchased 11 propane buses and one natural gas bus to double the size of the fleet and reduce USC’s carbon footprint. It also added shuttle routes between campus and LA Live last November.
The Campus Cruiser service is being used more frequently as well, said Tony Mazza, director of USC Transportation.
“We went from 500 calls on a busy evening to over 1,000 on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday,” Mazza said.
With 123 students taking calls and driving, Campus Cruiser is the largest student-run university program of its kind in the country, he said.
The alternative transportation appeals to students such as Matthew Palmer, a senior majoring in economics.
“For me the trams are convenient because I live by 27th [Street] and both of my bikes have been stolen,” Palmer said. “A lot of the buses run similar routes, so it’s OK if you miss one.”
Mazza said that receiving the award highlights some of the things that he and his staff have been doing, and that it was “really special” to be nominated by Moore because of his transportation expertise.
“The public recognition this award gives us is really great for my team and for the hard work that they do,” Mazza said.
WTS gives graduate and undergraduate scholarships to women pursuing jobs in transportation, science and engineering, and serves as an organization for professional networking for those in the transportation industry.
“WTS has historically been a friend to USC,” Moore said. “WTS and USC are close to each other since we’re both in the Downtown area, and WTS has been very, very generous to USC students over the years.”