Next Generation of SoCal commuters
LOS ANGELES – College and university student leaders from throughout Southern California today urged elected officials and transit executives to work with them in delivering transportation options that will get them to school, work and other destinations without having to drive.
About 60 student leaders and officials held a frank discussion at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) during a two-hour forum that spotlighted how millennials and other young people travel and their desire to reduce dependence on the automobile.
“The stakes are high for everyone in the region,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden, who participated in the forum and is chair of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Regional Transportation Solutions. “Millennials are the largest population group and how they get around can have a huge impact on traffic and the environment, especially, if we can steer them out of their cars. Their comments are critical as decisions are made about operating transit today and preparing for the future.”
The forum was jointly sponsored by Metrolink, Cal State LA student leaders and the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA.
“It’s important that we have this dialogue in the hopes that transportation policymakers act on our feedback so that public transit and other mobility options are viable alternatives to driving,” said Nia Johnson, President of the Cal State LA Associated Students, Inc. who moderated the program. “Many of us would prefer not driving but the alternatives must be safe, convenient and affordable.”
The discussion is timely because traffic in the Los Angeles region is the worst in the world, according to data monitoring firm INRIX. Drivers annually spend more than 100 hours in peak hour congestion, and it costs them each an estimated $2,400 in wasted fuel and lost productivity. At the same time, public transit ridership is lagging.
“Students tell us that public transit is an option, if it works for them,” said Metrolink CEO Art Leahy. “Transit operators have to seriously consider issues like cost, schedules and safety. It’s good to hear what they have to say because the decisions made today will affect them for decades.”
Leahy noted public transit is an alternative for many students. Cal State L.A. is directly served by Metrolink, Metro and Foothill Transit. Metrolink averages about 500 weekday boardings at its Cal State LA station.
Students shared a variety of personal experiences that underscored the difficulty in getting to campus, work and other places and spotlighted their attitudes toward driving, which differ from previous generations.
For the first time in more than 60 years, Americans are driving less. The trend is led by millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996. Academic research, surveys and government data show millennials are different from other generations in many ways and mobility is no exception.
They drive less and pride themselves on being multimodal. They are concerned about the environment and community and prefer living in cities and walkable communities where driving is an option, not a necessity. They’re mobile and grew up in a digital age and expect to have internet access while commuting.
The research echoed not only what student leaders said at the forum but also the findings of an online regional student mobility survey conducted this year by Metrolink.
Participants pledged to hold further meetings at venues throughout the region.
Metrolink is Southern California's regional commuter rail service in its 25th year of operation. Metrolink is governed by The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Metrolink operates seven routes through a six-county, 538 route-mile network. Metrolink’s passengers travel approximately 441 million miles each year, making Metrolink the second busiest public transportation provider in Southern California. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the eighth largest based on annual ridership.
ABOUT CAL STATE LA ASSOCIATED STUDENTS, INCORPORATED (ASI)
ASI's purpose is to promote the establishment of, and provide the means for, effective avenues of student input into the governance of the campus. In turn, we are the official voice through which student opinion may be expressed and offer an opportunity for students to gain experience in responsible political participation and community leadership. ASI assists in the protection of the rights and interests of individual students and stimulates the educational, social, physical and cultural well-being of the university community. More information at: www.calstatela.edu/asi
ABOUT PAT BROWN INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS
The Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA is a nonpartisan, presidentially-charted institute dedicated to the quest for social justice and equality of opportunity, enlightened civic engagement, and an enhanced quality of life for all Californians.
Former California Governor Pat Brown brought the Institute to Cal State LA in 1987. Today, the Institute seeks to sustain the vision and legacy of Governor Brown by promoting civic and community engagement; helping to advance an inclusive public policy; connecting with and energizing the Next Generation; and serving as a thought leader on vital issues for the region and the state. More information at: www.calstatela.patbrowninstitute.org