USC Public Health Professor Asks for Better Transportation Options to USC

Transportation issues at the University of Southern California have been in the news recently. Yesterday’s “Today’s Headlines” featured a story about how USC’s students rely on bicycles, but the administration is making it more and more difficult to bring bicycles onto campus.

Ed Avol. Photo:##https://news.usc.edu/files/2012/06/Avol_Ed.jpg##USC Keck School of Medicine##

Earlier in the week, the focus was on the faculty outrage that the school was canceling a program designed to make rideshare easier and more affordable in favor of a parking subsidy program. Neither story was news to Streetsblog readers. We’ve covered the strange transportation policies at USC for years, including a recent takedown of the end of the rideshare subsidies by Sahra Sulaiman.

Streetsblog has long argued that there is a direct link between transportation planning and the health of a community. While USC’s administration seems to have missed this lesson, their public health professors have not.

Professor Ed Avol, with USC’s Keck School of Medicine, has not been shy about his feelings towards the school’s transportation planning decisions.

“The notion that it is no longer feasible, or appropriate, to encourage people to use mass transit rather than drive their individual cars to park in University-owned lots, and to suggest that a reasonable partial offset to elimination of the subsidy would be to provide several parking passes to those formerly using mass transit, is convoluted logic of the highest order,” Avol writes in a letter to the Provost and Transportation Office at USC.

The full text of Avol’s letter can be found after the jump.

 

Dear Provost Quick… and the Transportation Office:

The University’s decision to eliminate the public transportation subsidy is an embarrassment and a step back from being the leader in environmental sustainability, environmental responsibility, and community leadership that we all want USC to represent.

The notion that it is no longer feasible, or appropriate, to encourage people to use mass transit rather than drive their individual cars to park in University-owned lots, and to suggest that a reasonable partial offset to elimination of the subsidy would be to provide several parking passes to those formerly using mass transit, is convoluted logic of the highest order.

As a leader in the community, USC should be setting an example and serving as a role model, as Los Angeles continues to struggle with issues of transportation and urban policy. Negating the partial encouragement of using mass transit (an act that negates a subsidy previously being provided at a lower rate than the other prestigious universities [Berkeley, Yale, Harvard]  that USC seeks to position itself as being a peer of), seems short-sided and clearly sends the message to employees that mass transit, public transportation options, and a larger vision of an environmentally responsible institution is something that USC is distancing itself from.

I am proud to work with my students to educate them about issues in Environmental Health, to get them to think about the trade-offs to be made in finding that challenging path that improves air and water  quality, that focuses on improving infrastructure and community, that builds social capital. With this move, the University goes on record as dismissing all of this as naïve, unimportant, and not worth the University’s involvement or commitment.

I deeply regret that this decision was made, and I fervently hope that the Administration can and will review and reverse the subsidy decision – NOT because it is cost effective, NOT because it is politically expedient, but BECAUSE IT IS THE SOCIALLY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO.

We pride ourselves at USC as both serving the community and educating the next generation of leaders – isn’t this an opportunity for USC to be more visionary, more compassionate, more eco-friendly … and lead?

Respectfully,

Ed Avol

Professor, Environmental Health Division

USC Dept of Preventive Medicine

 

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