Tag Archives: commuting

London Begins Reopening, Sees Commute Demands Change

London Mind the Gap iconLondon, England, has begun emerging from its COVID-19 shutdown and, according to the Evening Standard, is already seeing changes to demand for different commuting modes:

  • Forty percent of Londoners say they’re hesitant to use the Tube rail system. Before COVID-19, 58 percent of people working in the city used the train or bus to get to work. Estimates are the system can only hold 13 to 15 percent of capacity while maintaining social distancing.
  • The government is encouraging people to use bikes, scooters, and their feet to get around when possible. Estimates say about half of London commutes are less than three miles long.
  • Car traffic is expected to spike but the city’s congestion charge returns to effect today and gets more expensive June 22. The city plans to ban cars from several major routes in an effort to calm traffic.
  • Electric scooters, which were banned from roads before the shutdown, are expected to be allowed in new and existing bike lanes.
  • Experts say most people won’t return to 9 to 5 desk jobs for quite some time, if ever, so they hope to get people back on the Tube, just on alternative schedules.

Read the whole story and analysis here.

Moving Ahead in Los Angeles

UCLA Transportation moves its campus into the next century

By Karen Hallisey and Michael Sommers

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES (UCLA) celebrates its centennial this year, 19-08 Moving Ahead Pg1and while its mis­sion of education, research, and service has stayed the same, the university’s parking and mobility needs have shifted significantly during the past century.
When ground broke on the UCLA campus in 1919, the surrounding area was rural and sparsely populated. That’s not true anymore. UCLA is now situated in the second largest city in America, bordered by three of the busiest streets in the metro area and close to some of the most congested freeways in the nation. And with an infamous car culture that has long dominated mobility in the region, emissions have greatly affected air quality in the LA basin and beyond.

Things began to change when the Olympic Games came to Los Angeles in 1984. With UCLA designated as an Olym­pic Village and hosting several key events, UCLA Trans­portation launched a modest commuter vanpool program in an attempt to proactively counter the anticipated traffic congestion during the games. But as the games came to an end, the university’s sustainable transportation program was just beginning.

Now, 35 years later, thousands of commuters across the campus participate in UCLA Trans­portation’s subsidized vanpool, carpool, public transit, bike, and walk programs. By making a deliberate shift away from simply providing access to parking on the campus to investing in more mobility and sustainable transpor­tation options for staff, faculty, and students, UCLA has become an example of how best to address serious traffic and air quality issues while providing convenient and economic alternative modes of transportation to its customers. In doing so, the department’s efforts have earned recognition from the International Parking & Mobility Institute (IPMI) as an Accredited Parking Organization with Distinction for its robust programs and services.

Work Hard, Commute Easy
UCLA Transportation is charged with getting commuters out of their cars and into more sustainable transportation modes to ease traffic and decrease the university’s overall carbon footprint. Despite 85,000 students, employees, and visitors on its campus each day, the UCLA employee drive-alone rate has dropped below 50 percent for the first time. And with its commuting student drive-alone rate at just 23 percent, the combined drive-alone rate at UCLA is now just less than 37 percent. Compared to LA County’s commuter drive-alone rate at 76 percent, one has to ask— how did UCLA do it?

UCLA Transportation consistently rolls out programs that are cost-effective, convenient, and accessible. Find­ing a better way to UCLA starts with smart and sustain­able commute options; the department recently launched a new online trip planning tool to help commuters explore their best routes to the university, be it by vanpool, public transit, carpool, biking, or walking.

For commuters coming from more than 15 miles away, the UCLA vanpool program is often a lifesaver as it provides a reliable means of transportation at an affordable monthly rate. Vanpool riders avoid directly battling LA traffic by relaxing in a deluxe passenger van. Currently, UCLA has 147 vanpools serving 80 Southern California communi­ties; they come to campus each weekday from as far as 70 miles away. Carpooling is also an attractive option for both employees and students, offering discounted parking permits with the convenience of having a car on campus when needed.

In 2018, UCLA Transportation negotiated with Lyft and Uber to offer the campus community discounted flat-rate fares for short-range shared rides to encour­age carpooling to and from campus. The promotion, which came at no cost to the university, matched rid­ers going in the same direction and charged a flat rate within a five-mile radius of UCLA.

Public Transit
Although public transit ridership has declined in LA County—it’s currently at the lowest level in more than a decade—transit use has increased at UCLA. With seven transit agencies serving the campus, including local and commuter lines, UCLA subsidizes transit use for its students and employees. To encourage ridership, UCLA Transportation offers the Bruin Commuter Transit Benefit Program, which provides a free transit pass for an entire academic quarter to those who are new to transit and wish to try it. Thousands of eligible students and employees have joined the award-win­ning program and opted out of parking permits, making it one of UCLA Transportation’s most successful pro­grams and increasing the university’s overall transit use by 5 percent.

Active Transportation Options
As more people invest in health and fitness, UCLA Transportation continues to promote active transpor­tation commute options such as biking and walking by launching innovative programs and enhancing the university’s built environment. Enhanced crosswalks, narrower streets, and slower speed limits on campus
UCLA Transportation also has an Earn-A-Bike program, encouraging eligible employees and graduate students to turn in their parking permits for two years in exchange for a free bike and accessories package. The program currently has more than 300 participants and continues to grow.

play a significant role in keeping active transportation users safe from vehicle traffic.
UCLA has more than seven miles of bike routes, hundreds of accessible bike racks and lockers, an af­fordable bike-share system, and a bike shop located on its central campus. This year, more than a half-mile of green designated bike lanes were installed on campus roadways in an attempt to keep cyclists and other com­muters visible to motorists while keeping sidewalks clear for pedestrians.

UCLA Transportation also has an Earn-A-Bike program, encouraging eligible employees and graduate students to turn in their parking permits for two years in exchange for a free bike and accessories package. The program currently has more than 300 participants and continues to grow.

For its efforts, UCLA was designated a Bicycle Friendly University twice by the League of American Bicyclists, receiving bronze status in 2011 and upgrad­ed silver status in 2015. And with more than 3,000 bicyclists now arriving to campus each day, the bike community at UCLA has more than doubled in the past decade.

Bruin Commuter Club
Sustainable commuting takes commitment, and UCLA Transportation rewards its commuters with incen­tives and benefits through its Bruin Commuter Club (BCC). BCC members receive commuter rewards from LA County Metro, emergency ride home services, and discounted daily parking privileges for those occasions when they need to drive to campus. Those who bike or walk to campus also receive additional mode-specific benefits through BCC. Additionally, members can now take advantage of both bike and transit benefits concur­rently to encourage multi-modal sustainable commuting. In 2018, BCC had approximately 7,100 members.

The UCLA Transportation Team

There’s much to admire about UCLA Transportation’s success. Besides its notably low drive-alone rate, UCLA recently recorded its highest average vehicle ridership on record and has no student waitlist for parking spaces, despite UCLA having the highest undergraduate enroll­ment in the UC system. Of course, no strong transportation program is possi­ble without a strong team. UCLA Transportation, which is financially self-supported and receives no funding from the UC system, employs more than 200 full-time
staff members and approximately 300 part-time stu­dent employees. Because so much of the transportation business is customer-service based, education and professional development within the organization is encouraged through involvement in industry-related organizations, certificate programs, workshops, and continued learning opportunities within the department and through university training programs. In coopera­
tion with UCLA administration, UCLA Transportation recently launched beginner computer training courses aimed at frontline employees. This new program, which starts with a skills assessment and includes every­thing from typing to basic Microsoft Excel and Word overviews, gives employees an opportunity to train for higher-level positions or gain skills to help them better navigate the digital world.

Many employees on the department’s frontline cus­tomer service team are undergraduate students who work as hospital valets, parking attendants, and event support, enforcement, and operations staff. Some of these positions offer the best pay on campus for students and provide flexible work schedules to avoid conflicts with their coursework and other school activities.

Because student employees are often the first point of contact when guests arrive on campus for performances and sporting events, rigorous customer service training is key. Along with taking part in professional development, many students are groomed for supervisory roles, which build valuable leadership skills for life beyond their UCLA experience. UCLA Transportation also works with the campus Career Center to aid student employees in translating their job skills into experiences that will im­press future employers.

At UCLA Transportation, employee recognition ex­tends to everyone in the organization. Individual contribu­tions are honored through various awards, as well as em­ployee of the month and year designations. Twice a year, the department hosts employee celebrations as a way to thank the entire team for its commitment and hard work.

Along with taking part in professional development, many students are groomed for supervisory roles, which build valuable leadership skills for life beyond their UCLA experience.

Moving Forward

What’s next for UCLA as it embarks on its second century? UCLA Transporta­tion’s road map for the coming years includes implementing more sustainable transportation initiatives that provide its customers what they want. With trends indicating a greater shift toward more multi-modal commuting, UCLA Transportation will give commuters the flexibility to choose sustainable trans­portation while still providing parking on campus when they need it. Bruin ePermit, the university’s new virtual parking permit system using license plate recognition, will eventually give commuters the option to participate in sustain­able transportation programs while still having access to parking on campus.

And just as the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles heralded the intro­duction of UCLA Vanpool, the 2028 games planned for LA will lead to new in­novations in transportation demand management at UCLA, beginning with the Metro Purple Line subway extension, which will be completed and operational in Westwood Village by 2027.

Due to UCLA Transportation’s commitment, sustainable transportation at UCLA is no longer the alternative choice—it’s now the preferred choice. In fact, UCLA Transportation recently integrated its Parking Services Unit with its Commuter Services Unit to form “Commuter & Parking Services,” reflecting the changing times. As the university enters its second century, UCLA Trans­portation will remain an innovator and leader in providing sustainable trans­portation options that support the campus community and surrounding area, making daily life better for Bruins and all Angelenos.

Read the article here.

KAREN HALLISEY is senior communications analyst with UCLA Transportation. She can be reached at khallisey@ts.ucla.edu.

MICHAEL SOMMERS is senior marketing analyst with UCLA Transportation. He can be reached at tsommers@ts.ucla.edu


Connecting The Commuting Dots: Offering intermobility services to maximize campus access.

By Casey Jones, CAPP

18-09 Connecting the commuter dotsA FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN THE PARKING INDUSTRY has occurred during the past decade or so in which parking professionals see their role as service providers rather than simply ensuring cars are parked between yellow or white lines. This shift has resulted in a sea change in the relationship between the provider of parking and the parker and has given rise to the development of new technologies, services, and products aimed at im­proving the parker experience.

Another shift is currently underway that is perhaps even more tectonic in nature and further defines not just the rela­tionship between the deliverer of the service and the receiver, but what services our industry is tasked to provide.

The parking industry is beginning to embrace the idea that our product is more than just a space to park cars and that instead we provide access and mobility. Access allows people to reach the destinations of their choice, whereas mobility is the ease at which we move from point A to point B. We’re beginning to realize that a significant enough num­ber of commuters desire access to multiple transportation modes and are likely to use alternatives to driving, at least part of the time, if we couple parking and transportation options in a complementary and seamless manner. In the U.S., universities and colleges are leading this revolution and serve as examples for the entire industry.

Driving Change
There are many factors driving this shift. First, and per­haps most importantly, higher education in the U.S. is facing significant budgetary challenges. To remain com­petitive and relevant, institutions of higher education must add high-caliber faculty, offer inspiring and up-to-date buildings and facilities, and provide programs that inspire, entertain, and support life-long loyalty from alumni. Building parking structures can be expensive, and the typical method of paying for parking garages with permit and citation revenue is largely insufficient to construct what is needed. Even if permit holders can fund new garages through increases in permit fees, there is often little or no political appetite for such endeavors.

Second, a growing sector of the campus ­community—namely students—wants commuting options. Some­times riding a bike to campus is desired while other trips require a car. Sometimes taking Uber or Lyft is the best option while other times the campus shuttle or public transportation works just fine. The myriad of choices is a good thing, but often the options are not designed to work together to provide a mix-and-match approach that can save money and time and improve convenience. Commuters are typically left to figure out on their own how to fit the options together.Fortunately, several high-performing university parking and transportation programs are figuring out that people shouldn’t be considered uni-modal and may, in fact, prefer to use different options depending on the day, season, and circumstance. Knitting together com­muting services in a seamless, convenient, and effective manner is referred to as mobility-as-a-service (MaaS).

Mobility as a Service
The MaaS Alliance is a European public-private partnership working to create “the foundations for a common approach to MaaS, unlocking the economies of scale needed for successful implementation and take-up of MaaS in Europe and beyond.” Its goal is to facilitate a single open market and full deployment of MaaS services.
The Alliance defines MaaS as “the integration of various forms of transport services into a single mobility service accessible on demand. To meet a cus­tomer’s request, a MaaS operator facilitates a diverse menu of transport options, be they public transport; ride-, car-, or bike-sharing; taxi or car rental/lease; or a combination thereof.”

The European MaaS framework centers on a single commercially motivated, private-sector technology aggregator that interfaces directly with the consum­er. In the U.S., it is more probable that public-sector providers of parking and transportation will remain as the centerpiece of the commute services delivery. Public-sector players may be supported by both pri­vate operators and technology providers, but delivery will likely flow through the owners of publicly owned facilities and services. The U.S. version of MaaS is mo­bility on demand (MOD) which, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, is defined as “an inno­vative, user-focused approach which leverages emerg­ing mobility services, integrated transit networks and operations, real-time data, connected travelers, and cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to allow for a more traveler-centric, transportation system-of-systems approach, providing improved mo­bility options to all travelers and users of the system in an efficient and safe manner.”

To avoid confusion between MaaS and MOD, I’ll use the term “intermobility” to describe offering a variety of commuting options in a coordinated, com­plementary, and flexible manner that may or may not be tech-­enabled. In the U.S., intermobility is already well beyond the concept stage and found most often at progressive, forward-thinking institutions of higher education. Here are some examples:

Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) robust alternative transportation features the Eco-Pass program that ties together important modal options. Registered bicyclists, holders of high-occupancy-vehicle carpool permits, and student and employee bus pass holders can purchase a discounted bundle of 30 all-day park­ing passes for parking in a designated parking lot or structure.

The University of Virginia
The University of Virginia provides incentives in which carpool (known as Cavpool) members get 20 occasional use parking permits per year when they sign up to become members. For added flexibility, per­mits are interchangeable among members of the same carpooling group.

Stanford University
Stanford University in California offers the Commute Club, which includes incentives to reduce parking de­mand while providing modal flexibility. For starters, members receive up to $300 per year for agreeing not to drive alone or park near campus. Club members can buy up to eight daily parking permits per month for times they need to drive and can pocket a few hundred dollars per year even when they buy the maximum number of daily permits allowed. Eligible commuters also receive free transit passes and can join a free vanpool or receive a free permit if they carpool. Promotions during the spring and fall include generous prize drawings for members and make the program fun and exciting.

University of Wisconsin
Flex Parking is available at the University of Wiscon­sin. Users of this program sign up for parking for a spe­cific lot or garage but only pay for the actual time they are on campus. Unlike the typical annual parking pass, this approach promotes the use of alternatives to driv­ing. Another innovation allows members of carpools and vanpools to have priority over non-­carpoolers when permit renewal occurs. Front-of-the-line priv­ileges mean those who share a ride get their pick of campus parking locations.

Boise State University
Several years ago, Boise State University in Idaho offered 10 scratch-off daily parking passes for bicycle commuters who purchased access to the university’s secured bicycle storage facility known as the Bike Barn. The program was recently revamped. Now called the Deluxe Bicycle Registration program, the program provides registrants access to secure bicycle storage; their bike is registered (easier to recover if stolen) and they receive four all-day parking passes and 15 percent off university bike shop merchandise and services.

Sacramento State University
Most schools have a mobile app that provides a wealth of information about events, dining options, athletics, and more, and most also provide some information about parking and transportation. Sacramento State University in Californa features commuting informa­tion prominently on its app, and with one click users can get real-time parking availability information, pay for parking, find out when the next shuttle arrives, and find bicycle routes and bike parking options.

Keys to Success
The examples above make clear a few emerging keys to intermobility success:

  • Less all-you-can-eat. In The High Cost of Free Parking, Don Shoup cleverly (and accurately) labels the typical way of selling annual parking permits as “all-you-can-eat.” The problem, Shoup notes, is that when you sell someone something for a whole year, they’re likely to use it. This may not be true of gym memberships, but it’s true for parking. A meaningful enough number of people on your campus may only want or need to drive occasionally. Let’s figure out who those people are and sell boutique permits that may only be good for certain days of the week.
  • Data is key. If we intend to sell fractional parking permits, we’ll need to have a good handle on how our parking facilities are used by day, week, season, and time of day so we don’t over- or under-sell them. Collecting, analyzing, and making data-driven deci­sion will help us ensure that a space will be available even for the occasional parker.
  • Flexibility is a must. I live in a place that isn’t all that friendly to biking a few months out of the year. What’s more, life happens to people, and a mode that seemed to work at one point in your life may not meet all your commuting needs at another time. Inter­mobility requires flexibility so people can pick and choose their modal options based on what best meets their needs. Like with a cellphone contract with no immediate way out, commuters may feel as if making the shift from one mode (driving) to something else (public transportation) may be too much of a com­mitment because they anticipate life happening. The best intermobility programs are those that provide patrons with the most flexibility and an easy way to move from one mode to another based on their needs.
  • Parking is still prime. Let’s face it: Driving is still the dominant mode of transportation and is likely to be for the foreseeable future. Experience suggests that many within the campus community are reluctant to move completely away from their preferred option. The successful intermobility pro­fessional understands this and will package offer­ings to include parking. Several occasional-parker options exist in the higher education space. Maybe we need to welcome and accommodate occasional cyclists and transit riders with pricing and service packages that allow parking most of the time. The truth is that even a modest modal shift away from single-occupancy driving will have a meaningful ef­fect on parking demand, especially if we can spread the reduction in demand broadly across facilities and times of peak occupancy.
  • Single point of sale. Most commuters need some help figuring out what commuting options work best for them, and if we up the complexity ante by allow­ing people to piece their commutes together as they see fit, we’ll likely need a common delivery platform and a single customer interface that easily allows access to each mode.
  • Partnerships make it possible. Universities typ­ically control most, but not all, the modal programs and services offered on a campus. Public transpor­tation systems, private parking owners adjacent to campus, transportation network providers, and others are involved in the provision of transporta­tion services; partnering with outside entities will be essential to maximizing access and mobility and customer convenience most of all.

We’ve understood for a while that we maximize access and mobility when we design, build, and operate parking facilities to accommodate multiple modal op­tions. We also accept and embrace that ours is a service industry and that providing a positive customer expe­rience is crucial to our success and relationship with those we serve. It’s now time to fully integrate parking and transportation programs and services to accom­modate a mix of commuting options that offer conve­nience, flexibility, efficiency, and ease of use.

The truth is that even a modest modal shift away from single-occupancy driving will have a meaningful effect on parking demand, especially if we can spread the reduction in demand broadly across facilities and times of peak occupancy.

Read the article here.

CASEY JONES, CAPP, is vice president at Timothy Haahs & Associates, Inc. He can be reached at cjones@timhaahs.com.