Much about the intercampus transit plans have changed since October 2019. This page serves to preserve information compiled by riders about the initial plans.

Original summary of the issue (initially published October 31, 2019)

  • UC Davis has operated an intercampus shuttle between its Davis and Sacramento campuses for over 30 years. Many riders have shaped their lives around the service in its current form, e.g., buying homes, setting up childcare and school enrollment, and organizing two working parent schedules.
  • The current intercampus shuttle service is well-used and well-liked. Positive aspects include: efficient and direct campus-to-campus route, high capacity for riders (60+) and bicycles (12), comfortable seats that allow for productivity and rest, seatbelts, and low cost.
  • UC Davis is planning to eliminate the intercampus shuttle (effective April 2020) and is directing intercampus commuters to a new Yolobus/SacRT public transit line. The new line will not be managed or controlled by UC Davis.
  • While a major improvement for the broader community, the new public transit route is not a suitable substitute for the intercampus shuttle. Because it has not investigated user needs and priorities, the UCD administration incorrectly assumes that intercampus shuttle riders will simply switch to the new public transit route.
  • In reality, most intercampus shuttle riders may return to commuting in personal vehicles because the new public transit buses (a) will be substantially slower due to additional stops, (b) they may require standing, and (c) they lack comfortable seats and seatbelts.
  • UC Davis’ planning surrounding the shuttle reflects a troubling detachment from its stakeholders and a rejection of the UCD Principles of Community commitments to environmental sustainability and community service.
  • Aggie Square and other efforts associated with the UCD Health growth initiative should expand public transportation and reduce pollution. They should not result in the closure of a popular commuting route and more cars on the road.
  • Intercampus commuters firmly request that UC Davis retain the existing shuttle service alongside the public transit route and formally include intercampus commuters in decision making about the shuttle.

Initial fact-checking of UCD’s claims (initially published November 8, 2019)

Claim: The new buses are expanding the existing shuttle, and they provide a comparable level of service.
Fact: The shuttle is being discontinued, the new bus route is significantly longer, the buses carry fewer passengers, and most riders will have to pay more. Details are provided below.

Reasons for the change

Claim: The impetus for the new buses is to improve the shuttle riders’ experience.
Fact: We believe the experience will be much worse (see the open letter on this website with > 500 signatures) and thus, we requested that they improve the proposed bus route by creating a survey to quantitatively understand our needs. Mr. Dulcich has purposefully delayed our request for a poll until after the deadline for the final schedule on November 18th. The planners are actively denying input from the shuttle riders in order to continue with their misguided plans unobstructed.

Claim: The bus services are changing because ridership in recent years has been in decline [1].
Fact: The data used to justify the shuttle cancellation is flawed:

  • The planners have reported on ridership data gathered by headcounts provided by the charter bus service. However, more careful analysis indicates that the dataset is incomplete. By contrast, long-time riders have reported that ridership has steadily increased.
  • The planners are estimating current and future revenue from flawed back-of-the-envelope calculations rather than using real ticket sales. Their calculations of current ticket sales estimate $3.50 in sales per bus (1-2 riders), which is likely off by an order of magnitude.
  • The planners have yet to collate, analyze, and/or provide data collected on ticket sales through TAPS and the cashier’s office.

In the town hall meetings, Mr. Dulcich acknowledged the new transit line is justified by inaccurate ridership and revenue values.

Claim: UCD cannot afford to keep the current shuttle line.
Fact: At all four of the Nov 6 and 7 town hall meetings, no budget hardline was provided that indicated that UCD could not afford the current shuttle line. One simple solution that has yet to be explored is to retain the current shuttle system and sell tickets to the general public to offset the costs. Mr. Dulcich responded that it’s an “interesting point”.

Claim: The new bus line will save us money and make the university “recession proof.”
Fact: According to Mr. Dulcich during the Nov 7 town hall meeting, UCD plans to contribute the same monetary amount toward the operation of the new public bus line, thus not resulting in any saving. If anything the new service is more costly; in order to provide the same level of service (passenger capacity, frequency of express routes, etc.) as the current intercampus shuttle, supplementary funding from additional grants, which have not yet been obtained, would be necessary.

Features of the new buses

Claim: New buses will be more frequent.
Fact: According to the latest draft schedule [2], buses will run at the same 60-minute intervals for most of the day and for only 6 out of the 16 hours of operation, buses will run at 30-minute intervals. These more frequent buses are during peak-commute hours, during which it is common to have 45-55 people on board. Under the future scenarios, excess people will need to wait for an additional 30 minutes to take a (non-express) bus, as the new buses seat only 33 people.

Claim: There will be express lines to offer point-to-point service [2,3].
Fact: Again, according to the latest draft schedule [2], there will only be 2 express lines (interspersed with non-express) each in the morning and evening. This is a loss of 14 express lines compared to the current shuttle system.

Claim: New buses will be attractive and preferred for the active users.
Fact: The ridership has expressed major reservations with the proposed changes, as can be seen in the open letter sent to decision makers like Chancellor May and published on this website. Within the first week, the open letter has been signed by > 558 people. Preferences of the active users have largely been neglected with no polling that explicitly lays out route options. At one of the town hall meetings on November 6th, 2019, the ridership requested to be polled and were told that we will hear by November 15th, 2019 about the option to do a poll.

Claim: The new buses will be affordable.
Fact: The cost of a single fare ticket — previously $1.50 — will increase by 70% to $2.50 [4,5]. Undergraduate students will ride for free but this is because there is a mandatory cost paid to Unitrans and Yolobus in their undergraduate registration fees [6]. Monthly passes increase for UCD employees from $45 to $70 [4,5]. Graduate students do not pay fees for Unitrans and are not considered by the university as employees — they would see a rise in monthly cost from $45 to $100 [4,5]. For comparison, parking on campus costs $50/month [7].

Claim: The new buses will keep cars off the road.
Fact: The downgrade in efficiency and capacity of the new bus will incentivise people to seek other faster, more convenient, and cheaper modes of transportation. A significant population of the ridership is strongly considering driving personal automobiles due to the appreciable increases in both cost and commute time.  It costs $600 to buy a parking pass for 1 year on UCD campus, but the same amount provides only 6 months of bus passes [7].

Claim: The new buses will not have seatbelts because it’s normal to not have them.
Fact: In 2006, a UC Davis shuttle bus flipped over on Highway 50 traveling at 65 mph, sending 20 passengers and the driver to the hospital [8,9]. There were no seatbelts on the bus, but UCD responded by making sure the current ones do. However, 13 years is enough time to forget the lessons of the past.

Claim: The non-express routes will add less than 15 minutes to the commute [10].
Fact: Following along with the proposed stops, Google maps estimates the new route will add 17 minutes [11]. This does not account for additional time for unloading/loading (people and bikes) at each stop or commute traffic, which can add 1+ hours.

Claim: People can easily access the Mondavi stop, and/or walk to their final destination on time.
Fact: The UC Davis campus is the largest in the UC system and many riders rely on the additional stops at Vet Med (over 1 mile away from the Mondavi stop) and the Silo (0.5 miles from the Mondavi stop). Without these extra stops and very limited bike capacity, many will be forced to walk an additional 25+ minutes once reaching the campus.

Claim: There are enough buses during the peak-commute hours to accommodate the demand for bike rack space.
Fact: Recent internal surveys show that 75% of the buses had more than 3 bikes on board; at peak commutes, they often have 8 bikes, and they used to have more than 8 before the current cap of 8 was instituted. Riders will not reliably be able to bring their bikes between campuses. We will need to pay for a second bike and leave one on each campus, which can cost an additional $20/month for secure parking on each side, according to the plan explained by Mr. Dulcich at an October Causeway Connection town hall meeting.

UC Davis’ commitment to its stakeholders

Claim: The new transit line is here to serve UC Davis affiliates.
Fact: The new line will be 100% owned by Yolobus and SacRT [12] and understandably, it is in their best interest to serve the greater community and not UC Davis affiliates. In spite of the planners’ insistence, the current plan outlined is not acceptable to UC Davis intercampus commuters. Mr. Dulcich said they will be able to monitor how much UCD affiliates are utilizing the new transit line by analyzing ticket sales. Given that they are still unable to retrieve ticket revenue data from the two campuses, it is highly suspect that monitoring will be done. Furthermore, SacRT, which will sell the Causeway Connection tickets, will have no means to distinguish UCD-affiliate ticket sales from general public ticket sales. At the November 6 Causeway Connection open house, Mr. Dulcich indicated that additional grants, which have not yet been obtained or even applied for, would be necessary to fund an expansion of the service beyond the current proposal.

Claim: The UCD leadership is involving their stakeholders.
Fact: The Electrify America grant funding the bus purchases was awarded in June 2018, indicating that these decisions have been in the works for at least 2 years. None of the committee planning meetings thus far have had a shuttle representative present, nor were any informational sessions scheduled until shuttle riders repeatedly demanded them. At multiple times in the past when shuttle riders suspected new decisions had been made, riders had to send repeated requests for information and updates before any meaningful response was received.

References

1 – https://theaggie.org/2019/10/31/long-running-intercampus-shuttle-to-be-replaced-with-public-electric-bus-service-leaving-many-riders-frustrated/
2 – https://foa.ucdavis.edu/initiatives/causeway-connection/schedule
3 – https://theaggie.org/2019/10/31/the-editorial-board-meets-with-chancellor-gary-may/
4 – https://foa.ucdavis.edu/initiatives/causeway-connection
5 – https://health.ucdavis.edu/parking/intercampus/
6 – https://unitrans.ucdavis.edu/about/faq/
7 – https://taps.ucdavis.edu/parking/permits/rates
8 – https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/uc-davis-shuttle-bus-accident/
9 – https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/SACRAMENTO-UC-Davis-bus-crash-hurts-20-halts-2465968.php
10 – https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/open-houses-intercampus-transit-options
11 – current route vs. future route (via Google Maps)
12 – https://www.sacrt.com/apps/wp-content/uploads/TitleVI-Med-Center-Draft-2019-10-14.pdf