UCLA students play a role in success of critical LA County transportation measure
UCLA undergraduate and graduate student efforts contribute to passage of Measure R, a half cent sales tax that will fund transportation improvements throughout LA county
By UCLA Sustainability Staff
Pictured to the right: UCLA graduate students Juan Matute and Sirinya Tritipeskul at the press conference on the passage of measure of R. This photo was originally posted by Darryll Clarke to LA Visions.
When Mikhail Silin, undergraduate student at UCLA, started the club Bruins for Traffic Relief, he didn't anticipate having a critical role in shaping the future of transit for the LA region. But this fall he, and the students involved in the campaign to pass Measure R, learned that their efforts could have a ripple effect. The ballot measure, a half cent sales tax that will fund transportation projects including the possible extension of the subway in the Wilshire corridor near UCLA, passed with 67.4% of the vote- less than a 1% margin above the two-thirds vote it needed. "Seeing what a narrow margin it passed by made me realize that a small campaign by students can make a real difference. We held rallies along Wilshire during rush hour and got the word out through Facebook and friends." said Silin.
Sirinya Tritipeskul, an Urban Planning graduate student, and Juan Matute, a dual Urban Planning and MBA student, helped Bruins for Traffic Relief spearhead the campaign, organizing rallies on the street that got media attention, writing letters and editorials, and getting other graduate and undergraduate students involved. "It was exciting. I never felt really compelled to hold a sign until this measure got on the ballot. I saw that this was an opportune time to establish a dedicated stream of funding for transportation." said Tritipeskul. The activities of UCLA students helped energize the countywide campaign for the measure, and the students were recognized at the press conference with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"We knew, given economic events, that it would be hard for the measure to pass. We also knew that UCLA needed the transit projects that the measure would fund to ensure long term sustainability. We went out to street corners in early October with the hopes that it would snowball into countywide attention. It did, and measure R passed" said Matute, who directs the UCLA Sustainable Resource Center, a Graduate Students Association program.
"The level of congestion in this city is jeopardizing our economic health and now is the time to invest in the infrastructure that will get LA moving again." said Tritipeskul, and on November 4th, the electorate of LA County agreed with her, loud and clear.
See also: Los AngelesTimes Article "Approval of transit funds pave the way for new challenges"
Published: Thursday, November 06, 2008