Students take to the streets for public transit
With the election looming, Bruins fight for Measure R to bring Metro to Wilshire
By Carolyn McGough, Daily Bruin senior staff
Originally Published in the Daily Bruin
Bruins for Traffic Relief, a new student group encouraging alternative public transportation options for UCLA students, has kicked it into high gear lately in light of the forthcoming November presidential election.
Undergraduate and graduate students are involved in supporting the cause, including Bruins for Traffic Relief external vice president Mikhail Silin and Juan Matute, a graduate voice the student group.
Silin said he believes it is of utmost importance to relieve traffic congestion in Los Angeles County and to support alternatives to driving in cars.
Several of the members of Bruins for Traffic Relief have been hitting the streets of Westwood, holding signs and speaking with public transportation users especially about Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase that would fund up to $40 billion over 30 years in Los Angeles.
The group took to Wilshire Blvd. last Friday in support of Measure R, and they will be back on Wilshire and Gayley Avenue this Friday to show their support for the measure.
“We went out on Wilshire on Friday from four to six holding up signs for Measure R, talking to people on the bus stops and telling people about it,” Silin said.
Silin said they also plan to stake out on Bruin Walk and let students know about the measure leading up to the Nov. 4 election.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the measure, also known as AB 2321, last month.
It would cost Los Angeles residents $25 per year, on average, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Agency Web site.
Projects would include the Westside Transit Corridor Extension, which would extend a subway rail line along Wilshire Blvd.
Rick Jager, a Metro spokesman, has said it is up to voters to decide whether or not they support the measure.
Consequently, Bruins for Traffic Relief’s goal is to encourage student voters and UCLA community members.
“By expanding the transportation options available to the Westside through traffic signal improvements, rapid transit, and a subway extension to Westwood, Measure R will enable UCLA students, faculty and staff to access professional, recreational and housing opportunities elsewhere in the county, including more affordable areas outside of the Westside,” Matute said in an e-mailed statement.
Matute, a Transportation Planning graduate student and director of the UCLA Graduate Students Association Sustainable Resource Center, said he is involved with encouraging transit advocacy.
He said he thinks Measure R is of particular importance, and his background in transportation policy and planning allows him to assist the group.
The GSA passed a resolution last Wednesday voicing their support for Measure R, Matute said.
According to the resolution, the quality of life of UCLA graduate students is negatively impacted by Westside traffic congestion and housing costs.
Traffic congestion is a factor in school selection that, if relieved, could help attract top talent to UCLA. And even though the focus of Bruins for Traffic Relief is the passing of Measure R, Matute said the group’s goals will not end there.
Silin said he has more long-term goals for the group.
“My future plans are just to be a student voice for students on campus,” Silin said. “Anything related to public transportation at UCLA, we want to talk to students about all issues.”
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008