College and university students in Southern California would rather not drive, but the current transportation alternatives fall short of meeting their needs.
That’s the message of a mobility survey that Metrolink conducted over the past six months. Nearly 600 college and university students from throughout the region responded. These are largely working class students with two thirds having annual incomes less than $30,000.
Sixty-nine percent said their personal vehicle best met their needs followed by Uber and Lyft (44%). Public transit and carpooling ranked high for only about a third of students. However, 68% of students said they prefer not driving alone, and 90% of those who took the survey said they would consider using public transit instead of driving if it were reliable, affordable, convenient, and safe.
When asked what features are important for them for transportation, the vast majority (76%) cited modes that were environmentally responsible. An even higher percentage (86%) wanted transportation to be stress free.
Public transit helps reduce air pollution and also is less stressful than driving, according to numerous studies.
The survey underscored that students, like their parents and others, commute long distances. Forty-five percent commute 41 minutes or longer from home to school.
Results of the online student mobility survey were shared at an unprecedented forum involving college and university student leaders from throughout Southern California, elected officials, and transit executives. They focused on the unique mobility needs of millennials and younger people, the next generation of commuters.
The forum was jointly sponsored by Metrolink, Cal State LA student leaders, and the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA. The purpose of this inaugural dialogue is promoting alternatives to driving to help ease traffic and determining how the current and future public transit systems in the region can be designed to attract younger riders and steer them from their cars.
Students were asked an array of questions to gauge how they get to school, work, and other destinations and what features would make public transit a better option for them.
Getting them exactly where they need to go quickly ranked high in the data along with reliability, affordability, and safety.