- UC Davis Graduate Student Association Executive Committee — view endorsed statement
- UPTE 6119 (union of professional and technical employees) — view endorsed statement
- UAW 5810 (union of postdocs and academic researchers) — view endorsed statement
- UC-AFT 2023 (union of non-Senate faculty and librarians) — view endorsed statement
Statement endorsed by the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (GSA)
We are a collection of graduate students who object the proposed cancellation of the UC Davis Intercampus Shuttle. Given that more than 166 graduate students have signed our open letter that explains our concerns, this issue is felt widely and therefore we request your support.
We commute from Sacramento for various reasons: for more affordable housing options, to minimize commute time with our partners who work in other cities, and to live in the big city. What unites us is that we have built our lives around the intercampus shuttle. The shuttle is an express route that connects the main campus with many of Sacramento’s affordable residential areas, such as Tahoe Park, Colonial Heights, and Oak Park. Many of us were informed about the shuttle when we were recruited to UC Davis, and many of us moved to Sacramento with the assumption that this route would be our primary transit line to arrive to campus.
What UC Davis has proposed
UCD has suggested that intercampus shuttle riders shift to an upcoming public transit line serviced by Yolobus and SacRT. This new route is not an adequate replacement because:
- The route is significantly longer due to a detour through Downtown Sacramento and Davis, adding 50% more time to the commute under no-traffic conditions.
- There are fewer seats (33 per bus compared with 57 currently) and no seatbelts.
- Costs for grad students will increase by 67–122% ($2.50 per single trip compared with $1.50 currently; $100 per monthly pass compared with $45 currently).
- The buses will carry less than half as many bikes (3 bikes compared with 8 currently; data collected shows an average of 5 bikes per trip).
UCD planning lacks transparency and evidence-based motives
UCD negotiations with Yolobus and SacRT and planning regarding the shuttle cancellation has occurred behind closed doors for at least 1–2 years. In the short time since we learned of the changes, we have uncovered numerous discrepancies in the data and rationale used to justify the shuttle cancellation. The planners have yet to produce trustworthy data demonstrating that the future transit line will be an improvement over the current shuttle. We have also experienced an explicit unwillingness to quantitatively survey commuter needs regarding this service.
Therefore, below we list the critical features of an intercampus transit line and what we expect of the UCD administration.
What we need of the bus
Our priority is to get to and from campus as quickly and safely as we can. This means:
- Hourly direct routes between campuses.
- Seats with seatbelts for all riders.
- No increase in price.
- At least as much bicycle capacity as current.
What we need from the leadership
- Delay the shuttle cancellation until UCD can present data and analysis motivating the changes and supporting the future components.
- Confirmation that UCD has a system in place to monitor the transit trends of the current ridership and project the extent that UCD affiliates will be using the new transit system, and clearly identifies criteria they will use in order to adapt if it is not well-used.
We hope that UCD leadership will address the aforementioned action items before further decisions are made. We are optimistic that we can work together to find effective solutions on this issue.
Statement endorsed by UPTE 6119 (union of professional and technical employees), UAW 5810 (union of postdocs and academic researchers), and UC-AFT 2023 (union of non-Senate faculty and librarians)
As you may or may not know, the university is planning to discontinue shuttle service between UCDMC and UCD effective April 3rd and replace it with a new transit line April 6th in partnership with YoloBus and SacRT. Many of the current shuttle users have numerous serious concerns about the ability of the new proposed service to 1) serve current ridership and 2) allow current ridership to serve the great UC Davis community.
Changes to the shuttle service include a decrease in bike capacity from 8 bikes to 3 bikes, smaller buses holding 33 people while the current buses hold 56, no ability for seatbelts, an increase in cost to employees and graduate students traveling to Davis, and additional stops in downtown Sacramento and in Davis increasing the commute time significantly. There will also be an increased frequency (two buses per hour between 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM) which the university sees as a plus, however with smaller buses the increased frequency is simply matching the current capacity of the buses.
Part of the cited reason for making these changes was a decrease in ridership but both Matt Dulcich and Anthony Palmere, who are representing this project for the university, have agreed that the current data on ridership should not be trusted. Current riders agree that ridership has increased and Matt Dulcich has admitted that they are conducting further analysis to get more accurate ridership counts.
In order to meet the proposed implementation deadline, the UCD, SacRT, and YoloBus must agree to a proposal on November 18th with a final decision on December 1st. This is extremely soon, especially considering the first public forums and page allowing for public comment weren’t created until October despite the team having worked on this effort for over a year. They also have yet to share the data from paper surveys conducted over a year ago indicating that there is some desire for this change despite numerous requests for this information.
After the initial town hall meetings the ridership quickly organized a group committed to ensuring that our needs are being heard by the university. We have shared a rider survey that we created with the planners clearly demonstrating that the proposed changes are not aligned with what the ridership desires. We have also created an extensive collection of notes from across the various forums, which taken together indicate the university is not listening to our concerns or taking into consideration a letter of concern with over 600 signatures. It seems that the university refuses to budge on the fact that increased frequency is not the most desirable feature despite numerous attempts from people in attendance to explain that the proposed changes may cause them to change jobs or switch to driving every day.
We have repeatedly asked for:
- hourly express lines,
- no one left at the curb during commute hours,
- similarly priced tickets,
- similar bike capacity,
- similar comfort (i.e. no standing),
- and seatbelts (see here and here for news about the 2006 intercampus shuttle crash on Hwy 50).
Clearly, the message about what we desire in a service is not getting across and it is in the Partners’ best interest to avoid collecting survey data to quantitatively understand our needs. In yesterday’s town hall meeting, it was disclosed that the possibility of polling existing riders was intentionally delayed until after the November 18th deadline for a final route and schedule.
Finally, UC Davis is spending the same amount of money, if not more, on the future transit line. In addition, it is investing $1.6 million dollars per year in operating costs, half of which it hopes to get back through grant funding, however that remains a substantial financial liability to put on the line. We understand that this new transit line must serve other populations, but it seems insensitive to imply that we should feel obligated to sacrifice features we depend on when our institution is spending the same amount of money.
The shuttle service has existed for more than 20 years. The commuters on the shuttle serve Davis as health care providers, researchers, professors, graduate students, and more. Besides commuters, students use the service to get to volunteer positions and internships at the medical center, it is used by employees who have responsibilities on both campuses to get to meetings, and it allows patients to get to the med center safely. This change would disrupt the lives of parents with carefully timed child care responsibilities, people who have purchased affordably priced homes in Sacramento (as compared to Davis home prices) based on access to this service, or those whom have gotten rid of cars and choose to rely on the shuttle instead. Many would choose to drive, further clogging the causeway, and some would likely seek other employment.
We are not an unreasonable group of individuals and it is fair to say we are all proponents of expanding transit. We are simply asking that the university 1) conduct more polls and surveys to analyze what the current ridership needs and the potential for increased ridership 2) delay their decisions related to the intercampus shuttle and new transit line until after this data has been collected and meaningfully incorporated into planning. The lack of communication and transparency from the university is deeply concerning, and we want to ensure we are able to continue to reliably participate as members of the UC Davis community.