The New Mobility

Student transportation needs indicate cost, convenience and access are priority issues

By Melinda Henricks, staff writer

College students are tech savvy, interested in the environment, love music and texting.
However, travel statistics illustrate that time, access, and convenience currently
outweigh those issues when it comes to transportation.

Transportation choices with multiple options are desired by students, trends indicate.
A survey conducted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), with 1,000
students from around the country, indicates that transportation needs among millennials, ages 18-25,
and young adults, ages 25 to 35, are within one percentage point of each other.

APTA weekly use statistics indicate that student preferences include walking, at 79 percent, and driving, at 63 percent, as the top two modes of transportation. These are followed by train (45 percent), bus (43 percent), and bicycle (26 percent). Uber and Lyft are now dominating the taxi and ride sharing market and are gaining momentum. Although Valley College students also ride skateboards and motorcycles, they were not significant contenders, according to the association.

Moreover, 69 percent of students surveyed used a combination of the above services three times a
week or more, with weekly use of other sources at 21 percent, thus reflecting the spontaneity and
flexibility that students often desire.

Valley Student Dustin Hamish,  musician and sophomore, stated, “the L.A. bus system is terrific. I can get anywhere in 30 minutes.” Although Hamish recently purchased a vehicle, he used public transportation for 12 years and says he would take the bus or train whenever parking is an issue.

Freshman Angela De Leon said, “I don’t have a car and I use the train and bus all the time. I prefer
the train but use the bus more often.” Angela also said she is happy with the service and does
not end up walking too far to the stops.

During leisure time, weather permitting, or when time is not of the essence, bicycling is becoming a major player among health and lifestyle conscious students, with many bicycling to the train or bus stop.

Further, the APTA survey found more than 50 percent of all students own or have access to a vehicle, with an additional 15 percent planning to buy or lease one in the next two years.

Like their peers polled across the country, Valley College students in Los Angeles County want subway and bus options that provide user-friendly, on-time, reliable service, and Wi-Fi access while traveling.

Of additional concern to students, is the distance from riders’ homes to available stops, and time
constraints regarding transfers during the scheduled trips. These are the top concerns and complaints noted in the APTA survey.

In the San Fernando Valley, Metro faces daunting and perhaps insurmountable odds fulfilling these
needs because unlike other areas, the Valley has sprawling communities spread out over many miles.

Adding more convenient stops and improving services may help, but finding funds and solutions remains a tedious and committed task.

A separate random survey of Valley College students underscored the findings of the national student transportation survey, but also found that issues such as transferring to multiple buses, lack of stops, safety after dark, and be major drawbacks of local public transportation. Why ride when you have access to a car?

Interestingly, those same students  said they would use public transportation to go to the Coliseum to see a game because “the savings are too good to pass up,” one of them said.

This clearly indicates that students have their price; it is simply a matter of finding out exactly what that price is while considering time and comfort as well as providing convenience and value.

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