Why public transportation is in high demand for some Cal Poly students
A record number of passengers are taking San Luis Obispo transit this month. Ridership numbers are up eight percent for SLO Transit establishing and breaking records for single-day ridership levels.
Transit Manager GamalielAnguiano said there are a several factors contributing to the increase, including outreach campaigns.
"We've improved our marketing. We've introduced new service, such as a Tripper Bus service that goes near the high school," said Anguino. "Also, the big elephant in the room is the fact that Cal Poly has shut down some parking lots."
The university has permanently closed two surface level lots for development projects. Bus routes that serve Cal Poly are seeing overcrowding during peak periods.
Nicole Powers is a graduate student at Cal Poly and takes SLO Transit to school. She said the closer you get to campus, the more crowded the bus becomes.
"At some points they can't take more kids on the bus, so they have to drive past, and [the students]wait for the next bus to come," said Powers.
She says for students who drive finding a spot can be challenging.
"One of my classmates had to miss class, even though she was nearly an hour early on campus, she couldn't find any parking and had to leave," said Powers. "These are people who pay for parking permits."
Students can pay several hundred dollars depending on the type of pass.
Cal Poly refused an interview request, but did issue a written statement saying that there is sufficient parking, but students and employees may have to walk farther. It also said the university has taken steps to mitigate the impacts.
The school said they encourage employees and students to explore alternative means of transportation including carpooling and subsidized local bus services. SLO Transit receives money from Cal Poly for free ridership for its students and employees.
Anguiano said SLO Transit is doing what it can to ease up some of the overcrowding.
"We are aware of current overcrowding, so we are responding by adding additional service to our routes," he said.
He says ridership levels are up for all demographics, not just students, which will require additional service.
SLO Transit is classified as a 'small-urban' transit system. Last year, SLO transit and 17 other California transit systems of comparable size received federal funding because of their significant ridership.