By Claire Walla
Isolated on a hillside overlooking the Monterey Bay, UC Santa Cruz has views to boast-but getting there is sometimes a problem.UCSC’s 2005-2020 Long Range Development Plan is not a sure thing. But regardless of whether or not UCSC enrollment does expand by the maximum 4,500 students, any growth at all requires careful consideration of the university’s impact on transportation on campus and off.
"I thought [those who drafted the LRDP] could have made more of an effort to think creatively about getting people on campus," said Jonathan Giffard, a fourth-year student and member of the Transportation Advisory Committee. "They make straight-line projections and are not forward-thinking."
To avoid this congestion, the LRDP proposes plans to change campus infrastructure to accommodate an increase in vehicles. If the campus expands to the north, as the LRDP maps out, new roads will extend vehicle access northward and construction on a third entrance to campus will be added.
And in addition to the 5,000 parking spaces already offered on campus, the LRDP plans for another 2,000 spaces. This will probably happen by way of new parking structures, or possibly by stacking one or two additional layers of parking space on top of the existing East Remote Parking Lot.
But, in addition to building new infrastructure, the LRDP also suggests the need for alternative modes of transportation.
Wes Scott, co-director for Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) at UCSC, points out that TAPS currently manages vanpool programs and bicycle shuttles that carry students and their bicycles up the hill. According to Scott, these services currently only cater to a little over 300 students, or about two percent of the UC undergraduate population, as opposed to 20 percent of the undergraduate population that relies on the city bus system.
Scott wrote via e-mail that the school is looking into alternative modes of transportation to and from campus, but said that "It is more likely that in the near future you will see an increase in the number of Metro buses available for university affiliates to use."
But Giffard is not so convinced that expanding the number of buses on campus is the answer.
"I think the buses are inefficient," Giffard said, adding that because there are so many bus stops on campus and many students get on and off at each stop, "they take a long time to get across campus."
Giffard notes that the LRDP does promote walking and biking, but he thinks the LRDP is too vague. There are no details as to how the university plans to extend walking and biking programs.
While Giffard would like to see the university take larger steps to update the campus transportation system, others feel the campus is already holding up its end of the bargain.
Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger thinks that the campus always has room to improve, but overall, he said, the campus is doing its part.
"Frankly, one of the things that’s happened for years is that the transportation infrastructure in the town has been neglected," Kliger said. "And we have to turn that around. If the city government did as much as the campus did, it would really help a lot," Kliger added.
But, according to Don Stevens, co-founder of the Coalition Limiting University Expansion (CLUE), city traffic has greatly worsened because of university expansion.
"The community, in general, is not happy about the growth [of the campus]. More growth equals more traffic."
In October of 2003 and May of 2004, the city rated major intersections based on delays and overall travel time during peak on-campus traffic hours. On a scale from A – F (F meaning "unacceptable"), 10 off-campus intersections would receive F’s by the year 2020, if growth is not accounted for, according to the report.
Stevens said, "I am not, in principal, opposed to university expansion. But how much more growth can really be accommodated?"