• Oviatt Library

Mass Transit Op-Ed: A Valley Transportation Plan

At California State University, Northridge (CSUN) student success is our number one priority.  Our relentless drive to challenge and support our students to persevere and to help ease burdens that might impede their progress compels us to take on issues that extend beyond the classroom; including mass transit in Los Angeles.

I knew early on as President of CSUN that the inadequacy of mass transit options was an important issue for many of our students and employees.  As an example, a student worker in my office told me it takes him two hours each day to get to and from campus by bus, and he lives less than 4 miles from campus.  Economically it is his only option so he tries to make the most of his time, but with the constant stops and exchanges it is difficult.  Undaunted, like the rest of our nearly 42,000 students, who reflect the rich diversity of Los Angeles, he is tenaciously pursuing his degree.

Tenacity is second nature to our students; more than 19,000 receive Pell grants, the federal assistance program for students from low-income families, making CSUN second in the nation for Pell funding.  For students who cannot afford their own transportation or who want to do the right thing relative to our environment, mass transit is an essential link to their aspirations for a career and better life, and to their ability to lift their families, their neighborhoods, and the organizations they will serve. 

Improved Mass Transit opportunities will have positive ramifications for CSUN, the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles beyond the benefits to our students.  Add in our employees and the thousands more who come to campus for our multi-faceted arts, culture and athletic programs, the number of people making multiple trips to and from campus each week exceeds 50,000, pushing the number of car trips each week well above 100,000, clogging surface streets with more traffic, jamming neighborhoods with parked cars, and polluting the air with dangerous carbon emissions.  When you consider that CSUN is already a designated Mass Transit Hub for the Northeast section of the San Fernando Valley, enhancing service to campus has much broader benefits.

This is why I am pleased to see Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley leaders coalescing around plans to vastly improve mass transit for the San Fernando Valley and its two million residents (The 5th largest population in the country if it was a city).  I whole-heartedly support the proposed plans with one notable caveat. As the educational, cultural and economic engine of the Valley, and the point to which the largest number of car trips are made daily in the San Fernando Valley, no mass transit plan can be considered complete without addressing the needs of CSUN and the northeast section of the Valley. A Valley transportation plan without CSUN’s needs being addressed is not a complete plan.

Based on extensive research and discussions with leaders from across the Valley, CSUN has identified six priorities for enhancing service to CSUN.  I encourage you to visit www.CSUN.edu/transitpriorities for the details.

I am grateful to the area leaders who have made CSUN a key part of their transit proposals, and I urge them and the Metro Board to include CSUN priorities in their transit plans.

I also encourage everyone, but especially our students, employees and alumni to attend the Transit Summit sponsored by Senator Hertzberg and the Valley Economic Alliance and hosted by CSUN on March 3 at 6:00 p.m., in the Grand Salon and join us in championing a full and complete Transit Plan for the San Fernando Valley.

California State University, Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison