USC commuter services require re-evaluation
USC prides itself in being a residential campus, offering many on-campus housing options to the student population. A significant amount of students, however, choose to find cheaper alternative housing off campus. This creates a problem as their needs become different from those living on campus.
Currently, USC and businesses affiliated with USC offer services available for commuter students, but most of these services are dated or inefficient. Students urgently need USC’s advocacy to help improve these programs to be improved to better accommodate the unique challenges commuters face.
The faults in the services offered to USC commuter students can hinder their performance in school and create a feeling of disconnect from the rest of the Trojan Family. The reality is that many students often spend hours on the road. The time they spend commuting can be utilized researching and catching up on readings instead.
Also, they do not have the opportunity to experience the fun-filled events on campus because most are scheduled at night, and most of these transportation options run during the day.
Nia Nakama, a junior majoring in communication, tries not to leave campus too late because she spends an hour or more driving home four days a week.
“I am disappointed that I can’t participate in events that start late because I have to get home before it gets too dark,” Nia Nakama, a junior majoring in communication said.
Zimride, a privately owned business affiliated with USC, is one service commuter students can use. Students and staff create a commuter profile that includes their destination and time of departure and return. Users also have to specify whether they are offering a ride or in need of one.
The purpose of the program is idealistic and is difficult to work with. Zimride attracts many staff members, which is unfortunate for most students as staff members typically work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This repels commuter students because their schedules tend to be shorter and have a later start.
Another drawback to this website is that many students are not active. To make Zimride more efficient, Zimride must work with USC to raise awareness among its students to inform and attract more website users, which might encourage Zimride to offer student-friendly hours.
Vanpool is another privately owned business at USC. With this program, students can sign up for a ride to campus according to their location. The fare ranges from $97 to $215 per month depending on destinations. Although the fees are considered reasonable, students do not have the option of choosing the time of departure and return, as they are determined according to destination. In fact, the schedule would accommodate staff better because the time of departure starts from the bright and early 4:20 a.m. and the time of return can be as late as 5:20 p.m.
USC should advocate for Vanpool to improve its services by offering additional time options. Students should be able to choose the time of departure and return that fit their class schedules.
The tram service offered to all Trojans for a ride to Union Station is an example of a successful program. The tram service is a well-established service on campus and is widely used among the students. It is available on weekdays and operates every 15 minutes to an hour depending on the time of the day. Thanks to this service, students are able to catch a train to commute back home or for a weekend getaway to San Diego.
USC can further enhance its services by offering a tram ride to Downtown Los Angeles beyond the tram to L.A. Live provided on Fridays and Saturdays. City buses that have stops in Downtown quickly become crowded as students and workers head home. A Downtown Los Angeles tram, even if it only operated during the busy hours of the morning and afternoon, would help students like Kathleen Angkosoro, a junior majoring in international relations who resides in Medici, an apartment complex in Downtown Los Angeles.
“Even though I live literally 10 minutes away from school, I still have to drive in the traffic every morning. It would be a great addition if USC adds a tram service to Downtown Los Angeles,” Angkosoro said.
Changes by USC, Zimride and Vanpool would better assist a wide range of commuters.
Sasha Shuhaimi is a junior majoring in international relations.