Los Angeles has a reputation as a car-centric city but, at USC, we are doing our part to help faculty, staff, and students take advantage of more efficient, sustainable ways to commute to campus. The Sustainability 2020 Plan laid out goals to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles traveling to and from USC, and to increase student, faculty, and staff participation in alternative transportation programs. We completed both of these Sustainability 2020 Plan goals for transportation two years ahead of schedule, in 2018. Our efforts continue to reduce our campus community’s impact while on the go.
Faculty & Staff Transit Subsidy
On October 1, 2019, USC began subsidizing 50% of the public transit costs of faculty and staff who enroll in the USC Transit Subsidy Program. The program is administered by USC Transportation, which coordinates regularly with transit partners and provide all operational support.
The transit subsidy is intended to reduce the number of single-passenger cars on the road during peak commuting hours, and is available to all USC employees in the United States, regardless of whether they work at one of the two main campuses or a satellite office.
Since its inception in October 2019, the Transit Subsidy Program has resulted in a reduction of 174 cars commuting to and from our campuses.
Campus Transportation AQMD Surveys
USC Transportation surveys all USC commuters annually to track how they travel to and from campus and reports the results to the South Coast California Air Quality Management District, as required by law. The data reveals an 18 percent drop in single occupancy vehicle use between 2014-2019. Other survey highlights are shown below:
USC’s required target Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) – or the weighted average number of occupants in each vehicle that drives to campus – is 1.50. We have outperformed this target every year for over a decade. Our 2019 AVR was 2.00, meaning that, on average, vehicles coming to campus in 2019 had an average of 2 occupants.
Plenty of Public Transit
The University Park Campus is located in the midst of a rich alternative transportation ecosystem. We are flanked on two sides (Exposition Boulevard and Flower Street) by the LA Metro E Line (Expo) Light Rail Transit Line, and on all four sides (Exposition, Vermont and Jefferson Boulevards, and Figueroa Street) by 11 LA Metro Transit Authority bus lines including Dash Downtown and Commuter Express lines.
These options allow Trojans living on campus to easily explore Los Angeles and enable off-campus students, staff, and faculty to avoid driving to and from the University Park Campus.
We Like Bikes
Traffic studies conducted in 2012 and 2014 revealed the University Park Campus as LA’s most dense bicycle hub. A dedicated bike lane runs the length of Figueroa Street, from Exposition Park to downtown. Another bike lane comes down Hoover Street and McClintock Avenue, while a third runs south-west on Exposition Boulevard. Coming soon, from the east, is a bike lane on Jefferson Boulevard. More than 3,000 bicycle parking spaces are provided on the University Park Campus and USC Village.
USC has fully embraced the city’s bicycle culture by welcoming LA Metro’s bikeshare program on campus. Stations are located on Figueroa Street (south of McCarthy Way Entrance) and Hoover Street, with 15 others planned to open in the next two or three years around the University Park neighborhood and South Los Angeles.
Traveler Mobile Platform
The Traveler mobile platform enables trip-planning focused on multi-modal, alternate transit-oriented options. Through strategic partnerships with Metro, Metrolink, Enterprise, Maven and more, the Mobility Hub reduces the use of SOVs on campus.
USC Transportation has expanded the platform to integrate Waze mapping for carpoolers, Enterprise for vanpoolers, Lyft for rideshare participants, and LA Metro for the Southern California region. Traveler users have already saved 27.4 tons of CO2 and $20,000 through alternative commuting options.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging
For electric vehicle drivers, A total of 130 electric vehicle charging stations are available in over half of the parking structures on the University Park Campus and both structures on the Health Sciences Campus.
Green Bus Fleet
USC operates a fleet of 28 bio-fuel buses, two propane buses, and one compressed natural gas bus. The six bus routes encompass the University Park Campus and surrounding neighborhoods, DTLA, Marina del Rey, and the Health Sciences Campus. The USC bus schedule can be found here.
USC’s student-run, evening/late-night Campus Cruiser ride-share program selects vehicles with high green ratings, including five hybrids, to provide escort services for students and staff. Hybrids produce 80 percent less greenhouse gases than regular gasoline vehicles.
A popular car-sharing amenity customized for the USC community, Maven provides 24/7 access to 17 fuel-efficient vehicles available on two campuses. The service’s mobile app supports easy reservations, keyless car entry and pay-as-you-go billing, including fuel and insurance costs.
Bio-Diesel at USC Gas Station
B20 bio-diesel fuel is available at USC’s gas station adjacent to the Parking Center (Grand Avenue Parking Structure). Bio-diesel emits fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants than gasoline, helping USC reduce its emissions.
As of spring 2020, approximately 16,000 vehicle parking spaces are available on the two USC campuses. Based on city zoning and construction requirements for each of our buildings, we are required to maintain this level. Of these spaces, 279 are reserved for carpools and vanpools, 130 are dedicated to EV charging stations, 371 are designated as handicapped parking, and 46 are motorcycle parking spaces.
USC Transportation is a Certified Los Angeles Green Business
USC Transportation has been acknowledged by The City of Los Angeles on becoming a Certified Green Business. Our program has demonstrated to our community that we run our business in a sustainable manner, both in policy and practice. We have been chosen as a model for all other transportation programs in the City and State that focus on Transportation Demand Management and Transportation Operation excellence, while focusing on sustainability and resilience.
Planning for Sustainability 2028
Looking ahead, we will explore innovative ways to promote both sustainability and safety in USC’s rich alternative transportation ecosystem. As we develop a plan for the next decade, our transit-related goals include discouraging single occupancy vehicle use and reducing USC’s carbon footprint, as well as easing congestion from the new Bank of America Stadium, the Lucas Museum, the narrowing of Figueroa Street, and the increasing popularity of Exposition Park and the LA Live area. USC Transportation and USC Sustainability will work with campus stakeholders and the city to explore every feasible means to keep the University Park Campus a safe and sustainable destination.
See below for notes from the Sustainability Steering Committee’s 2028 Planning transportation meetings: