In May/June 2004 we polled 2300 UCSB faculty, staff and students to find out how they commute to UCSB, how often, by what mode, and why. This was part of a study sponsored by Caltrans through the California Partners in Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) at UC Berkeley. The formal title of the project was “Spatial and Temporal Utility Modeling to Increase Transit Ridership.”

Bus beats car in the green areas. Spatial quirks (like the big green patch at the airport) are the unavoidable side-effect of interpolating over unpopulated areas.
The survey was the first step.  Next, based on MTD route maps and schedules, we developed software to calculate travel time by bus from and to different parts of the city at different times of day. We mapped regions of the city that are well served and not as well served. We calculated how much longer (or not as long) the trip takes by bus than by car. And we designed an algorithm to work out new bus routes, to improve service to those who currently have little choice but to drive. The results could potentially be applied to alleviate both the congestion on the south coast and the parking crisis at UCSB. Alleviate—not eliminate.  More generally they could be applied to transit optimization anywhere, particularly at large employer sites.

Unfortunately due to funding limitations we weren't able to take the next step and determine whether the routes would be financially viable for the transit agencies, or how inter-agency cost sharing could address the bottom line.

The project ended 2004 December 31. The final report is now available. Stepping back into history, here are a few links of interest:

  1. The survey announcement page
  2. Early tabulations of results (before the undergraduate responses came in) are worth a quick look—some insights, some laughs
  3. One very heartening aspect of the survey was that roughly half the respondents, 1100 out of 2300, took the time to offer free-form comments in addition to answering the multiple choice questions. A lot of reading but highly recommended input for policy makers.

In general the response rate was higher than we dreamed, and answers were mostly error-free. Thank you, UCSB! And thanks to the many agencies who supported the research in various ways: UCSB Transportation and Parking Services, UCSB Transportation Alternatives Board, UCSB Human Resources, UCSB Social Science Survey Center, The Daily Nexus, Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, Nextbus Inc, Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, Coastal Rail Now, and Tele Atlas North America Inc (formerly Geographic Data Technologies Inc).

Richard Church, Principal Investigator
Val Noronha, Project Director

    University of California, Santa Barbara
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