5 Forms of safe and accessible transportation around UCLA and Westwood

by Natalie Rajha

Walking:

Whether you live in on-campus dorms or off-campus apartments, walking to class is never a bad idea. In fact, many students choose walking as their main mode of transportation. You have probably heard that walking is great for the body and mind, and the rumors are true! If it’s sunny and daylight is out, you might as well get both your exercise and vitamins.

My Ratings:

  • Accessibility: 9/10
  • Safety: 7/10

Why these ratings, you might ask? Let’s start off with accessibility.

Most people can readily walk to campus and through Westwood if they live close by, making their access generally no problem at all. There are plenty of sidewalks and crosswalks to make this mode of transportation as easy as possible. The only reason I knocked down the accessibility rating is because the further away you live from campus, the less convenient walking becomes.

But accessibility is just one thing we should take into account. How about safety?

Walking scores a seven for safety because it is very good to exercise and there is no real risk to walking on its own, especially in the day. At night, however, it does become a little less safe due to lower visibility for drivers. Don’t let that steer you away! I’ve walked alone from UCLA to my off-campus apartment in the dark with no issue, and there are plenty of other Bruins to help you feel safe and comfortable. If you’re still nervous, find a buddy and walk together! Not only will you be safe, but you can chat about your day as well.

A Fellow Bruin Shares Her Take on Walking:

Demi Oyebobola, a third-year student studying international development studies and living in the university apartments, spoke about her experience walking to and around campus. “Daytime, I don’t mind it, and I feel like it’s necessary because it’s my exercise,” she said. She said that at night, it is a little less safe, but mentions the neighborhood is better than USC. Oyebobola also has a buddy system that she uses at night. She rated the safety a seven out of 10. As Oyebobola says, whether or not it’s a good form of transportation for you “comes down to what you have and your lifestyle.”

Don’t like walking? There are plenty of other modes of transportation that you can use instead!

Biking or Taking a Scooter:

If you’ve been on campus and traveling through Westwood, I’m sure you have seen people zipping around on Bird scooters or the bicycles parked along bike racks. You might have also seen the newly added Metro Bike Share that’s been around, often spotted on Weyburn Terrace near the off-campus university apartments or in front of the Luskin Convention Center. Biking and using a scooter is a step up from walking, a faster way to move if you’re running late to class.

My Ratings:

  • Bike: Accessibility: 8/10, Safety: 7/10
  • Scooter: Accessibility: 8/10, Safety: 4.5/10

Why these rankings?

Scooters are a great way to get around, but they come with a price. This means that, while present and accessible to everyone on campus, their prices might add up if used every day. If anyone is thinking about using a scooter, the Bird rental service offers unlimited rides for users and a Bird Access Program that could offer discounts to low-income riders. So don’t just discount this mode of transportation because of its price, try it out!

If you have your own bicycle, ride it to and around campus! UCLA has a number of bicycle racks located around the school, and it’s a great way to get in your cardio. Don’t have your own bike? No worries. UCLA has Metro Bike Share available to help get you to class on time. Also, students can get reduced fare prices when being transported around town. The cheaper passes start at about $1.75 for every 30 minutes, and you can use a TAP Card or the Metro Bike Share app to access them. If this seems like something you’re into, get a move on!

While a great form of transportation, I do have to emphasize that falling off an electric bike or scooter, especially the scooter, can be dangerous if you are not wearing a helmet. The last thing you want is to hurt yourself or others on the way to class.

A Fellow Bruin Shares Her Take:

Kiersta Donnelly, a third-year political science and transfer student, said that she likes biking a lot more than she expected, and it has been surprisingly safe. The only times she mentioned that she didn’t feel as safe were at night, when she biked through highway underpasses. While she has never experienced direct threats, being a woman does make her more vulnerable at night. Donnelly rated safety a seven out of 10 because “at night, you are biking alone.” But she also mentioned that she had to “wear a lot of visibility” and used hand signals to make sure cars can both see her and know where she is headed. Donnelly also rates accessibility as a seven because it is accessible to those who are able-bodied, but can be physically taxing. She also mentioned that it may not be as accessible for those who are low-income because it costs “a pretty good chunk of change that some people might not have” to afford the bike, visibility gear and proper helmet.

So, if you don’t want to walk or take the bus, wear a helmet and get locked in! There’s plenty of places to go.

Carpool or Drive:

Do you have a car? Does your friend have a car? They do? Then carpooling can be another great option to get to class!

My Ratings:

  • Accessibility: 6/10
  • Safety: 10/10

Why these rankings?

Driving around campus and Westwood is relatively safe, especially with the number of traffic lights and stops that are required. The only major issue that comes with carpooling or driving is the parking cost. Depending on the parking structure, number of hours you plan to park and how often you have to come to campus, your prices can range from as cheap as $7 to as expensive as $27 per day. Those are not the most convenient prices for the majority of college students driving their cars to campus each day. However, if you want to carpool with someone and split the price, things become way more manageable.

Check out the UCLA Transportation website and the parking permits to see if they’re more available and accessible for you.

A Fellow Bruin Shares Her Take on Driving:

Hafsa Jamal, a fourth-year communications student, rated the commute to campus as a “solid seven” because while it is not amazing, it is not too bad since she knows how to work around traffic. She also mentioned that UCLA has student discount parking, making a regular $14 parking permit closer to $7. Jamal rated safety at a six because the parking structures do not always feel safe, especially after hearing about assaults and other issues that have occurred there. She rated accessibility at about an eight because the “parking structures are pretty accessible” with the discounted rates, and Westwood is a relatively safe area. An issue that docks the accessibility rating, however, is that it can sometimes be hard to find parking outside of Westwood.

The Bus:

If you haven’t seen it already, UCLA offers the BruinBus as a way to get to and from campus, which is a convenient ride for students who live in the university apartments.

My Ratings on the BruinBus:

  • Accessibility: 9/10
  • Safety: 10/10

The BruinBus operates Monday to Friday between 7:25 a.m.β€” 5:55 p.m., making it an ideal form of transportation for students living in the off-campus university apartments, those wanting to visit the Hammer Museum or those simply seeking to get to campus. The BruinBus is a super safe option because it only transports UCLA-affiliated individuals, most often students. I have used this bus several times to travel from my off-campus housing to my classes and have never had the issue of a lack of safety.

However, one thing that should be noted is the BruinBus can get quite full depending on the times you leave for class, and sometimes students are no longer accepted on the bus when it hits full capacity. While this is rare, it’s better to arrive at the bus stop early to avoid this issue. Getting there early will ensure you have a seat!

A Fellow Bruin Shares His Take:

Levon Avedian, a third-year biology student, describes his experience on the BruinBus. He said that it gets the job done, but would sometimes run late. However, he said, “Overall it’s free, so I can’t really complain.” When I asked Avedian to rate both safety and accessibility for the BruinBus, safety was given an eight and accessibility a 10. The reason safety was an eight is because he said that while it is overall pretty safe, people don’t really check who gets on. For accessibility, Avedian said, “In general, people have access to it because there’s multiple bus stops around,” and you don’t even need an ID.

If the BruinBus sounds like an option for you, check it out! Use the TripShot app to see when the bus comes and goes and utilize it to get around campus!

But if you want to travel longer distances using the buses outside of BruinBus operation times, check out the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus! UCLA students can now get a U-Pass to have fare-free transportation on specific public transit. Get one today by visiting the UCLA Transportation website. More on this form of transportation another time!

My Ratings on the Big Blue Bus:

  • Accessibility Rating: 8/10
  • Safety Rating: 5/10

A Fellow Bruin Shares Her Take on the Big Blue Bus:

Julie Reyes, a fourth-year computational and system biology student, shared her take on the Big Blue Bus. She said that she used it as her main source of transportation, feeling pretty safe overall and thought it was accessible. However, there were a few times when Reyes felt unsafe.

So there you have it, Bruins! Both buses can be accessible and safe, but be aware and vigilant when using either, especially non-university affiliated transportation.

SafeRide:

Don’t have any nighttime form of transportation? Don’t feel safe walking or taking the bus late at night? Want a completely safe option?

UCLA SafeRide is a completely free service that operates at night from 6:45 p.m. β€” 9:45 p.m., Monday to Friday. If you ever have a late class, club or event that you are attending and want one of the safest options back to your dorms or university apartments, check out SafeRide!

My Ratings:

  • Accessibility: 8/10
  • Safety: 10/10

SafeRide is accessible to all UCLA students, staff, faculty and visitors, making it one of the best forms of late-night transportation. If you worry about taking a commercial bus such as the Big Blue Bus because of non-UCLA affiliated people using it too, consider using SafeRide!

A Fellow Bruin Shares Her Take on SafeRide:

Esteffani Maldonado, a fourth-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, overall had a pretty positive experience with SafeRide. “I think the drivers are pretty accommodating and polite,” Maldonado said. Her only complaint was about the wait time. While usually reliable, she sometimes reserved rides that were continually delayed. When asked to rate safety and accessibility, she rated safety between a seven and eight and accessibility between a six and seven. Maldonado felt that SafeRide is relatively safe and better than walking at all times, but it isn’t a complete 10 because of the wait time, especially at night. While she felt that it was useful and accessible, the wait time can make it tiring.

Like the BruinBus, you can track the times and locations that SafeRide operates on the UCLA Transportation website and through the TripShot app. If you choose to use this form of transportation, make sure you book it through the TripShot app!

Overall:

If you’ve been looking to try one of these forms of transportation or simply find a new one you’ve never heard of before, go out there and give it a go!

While all these modes of transportation are great to use, there are still problems when using UCLA-specific forms of transportation to get around over the weekends. Stay tuned for another article where we will discuss other forms of transportation that you can use on your days off from campus!


Featured Image Photographed by Julia Gu/BruinLife.

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