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Moving Forward

Los Angeles is the most congested city in the nation, according to INRIX, a transportation and traffic data analysis company.

That’s one reason L.A. is pushing for improved public transportation options to encourage more residents to get out of their cars and use public transportation.

After voters approved Measure R in 2008, L.A. made some steps to improve its public transportation options. But one key part of town was left out of those measures: the San Fernando Valley.

Now, city and transit officials are trying to change that. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has proposed a new $120 billion plan that would include funding for a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass, toll roads on the 105 and 405 freeways, and extensions to other light rail routes in the city.

At Cal State Northridge, some 59 percent of students drive alone to school and 73 percent of the faculty and staff drive to school, according to a recent study done by CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability. Some 200,000 vehicles come to campus in an average week.

“In the Valley, public transportation has been overlooked for years,” said Ken Premo, the manager of Support Services for Associated Students at CSUN. “There is limited service, and any student who comes to the university knows that they can’t easily get from place to place. There’s not a lot of stops and there’s not a lot of options.”

It can take some students up to two hours one way to get to campus via public transportation, Premo said. The students also have to make transfers on and off buses multiple times in order to get to campus.

“A robust transit system that serves the needs of our students means a student would be able to better balance a very busy class schedule and a part time job,” CSUN’s President Dr. Dianne Harrison said at the Valley Transportation Summit in March.

But not everyone thinks adding more public transit options is the solution. The Metropolitan Transit Authority reported in January that it lost more than 10 percent of its boardings from 2006 to 2015. The Times also said Metro has fewer boardings than it did three decades ago.

Larry Isrow, CSUN’s Parking and Transportation Services Manager, said ridership has declined across the region because transit routes aren’t convenient.

“We did a study on campus that showed that 57 percent of people would be inclined to take the bus if they only had to take one bus,” Isrow said. “Once you have to start making transfers, it becomes inconvenient and too time consuming, and people won’t do that.”

According to CSUN data, half of the university’s population lives within a ten mile radius from campus. That’s why Isrow believes CSUN should be a transportation hub.

“We would like to see the transit center connect with the proposed East Valley Transit Corridor via Nordhoff Street,” Isrow said. “We’d also like to see the [CSUN] transit center have improvements made to it, so we could increase the volume and number of lines that are coming into there.”

State Senator Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat representing the 18th District in the San Fernando Valley, agreed that CSUN should be a transportation hub.

“If you go and show a big picture map of the Valley, and you include a bus rapid transit coming down Nordhoff and one coming up Reseda, it sends a message that the Northwest Valley is included as part of this larger transportation plan,” Hertzberg said. “The Northeast Valley benefits because so many students from CSUN come from the Northeast Valley. It fundamentally completes the picture of the San Fernando Valley.”

While cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. may have been built for public transportation use, L.A. has more suburban ground to cover and may seem better suited for the car. But CSUN Urban Studies and Planning Professor Craig Olwert said it is not too late for L.A. to get into the public transportation game.

“The subway system has been fairly successful and the Orange Line has been very successful,” Olwert said. “There is a demand for [public transit] and as we keep allowing more high density to be built around those stations, eventually you’ll start seeing an increase in ridership.”

Ultimately, the decision to bring more transit options to the Valley may be be left in the hands of voters. If the new plan is approved by the Metro Board of Directors in June, it will go on the November ballot, where it will need two-thirds approval to pass.

 

Moderator: Jarvis Haren

Anchor: Mariah Robinson

Producer: Jarvis Haren

Social Media Editors: Ayo Adelaja and Haley Kramer

Reporters: Ayo Adelaja, Harry Bennett III, Jarvis Haren, Valerie Hernandez, Sofia Levin and Mariah Robinson

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