Protest on the Horizon

UCSD students are protesting changes to school-provided transportation options following a recent Transportation Services announcement that parking prices will increase and that several shuttle lines, including the popular Nobel and Arriba routes, will be discontinued for the 2013–2014 school year.

The changes include higher prices for student parking permits and the elimination of the Free Bus Zone sticker. TPS is also integrating the Arriba/Nobel shuttles into the MTS system, as previously reported in the Jan. 24 issue of the Guardian.

In response to Transportation Services’ referendum, a coalition of students launched Project Sumo, an initiative that coordinates communication between students through a website——in order to organize a protest in the near future.

A representative of Project Sumo, Devarsh Desnaiger, calls the group a decentralized effort that encompasses the interests of both commuters and students who live on campus.

“Project Sumo is fairly straightforward,” he said. “Stop these new, ridiculous policies from being passed over our heads by collectively standing up for it.”

A.S. Council Campuswide Senator Caeser Feng also supports Project Sumo as a unified stand against Transportation Services’ new policies.

“The goal is to have everyone on board to raise more awareness towards the fee increases, the parking policies, and the insufficient student feedback that was garnered before making these decisions,” Feng said. “Transparency and transportation are huge issues on this campus, and this should be a priority.”

Another student-run effort is a new Facebook group, called UCSD Students Against Transportation Changes, which has garnered over 5,000 members. The page includes dozens of posts from students offering their solutions, as well as a poll whose results show that students favor eliminating additional transportation fees to students completely.

UCSD shuttle driver Dane Kawika Ferrari-Esias posted his own perspective on the issue on the Facebook page.

“Why are we paying more to subsidize MTS when we have the infrastructure, staff, and equipment to do it much more cheaply and efficiently,” he wrote. “The mismanagement and appropriation of funds at TPS is an atrocity, to say the least. But there isn’t one person in the entire university who wants to call it out.”

Current students lamented the loss of the shuttles and suggested plans that include everything from adding more “S” spots to expanding on-campus bike paths.  One student posted that Transportation Services’ changes will make it more difficult to live on and off campus and be part of the community.

Others noted the unity of the group, and the surge of student activism following this issue.

“Everyone who commutes to school actually has a stake in this issue, unlike most things that only directly affect a small group of people within our community,” one student wrote.

According to the Facebook group, A.S. President Meggie Le will meet with Vice Chancellor of Resource Management & Planning Gary Matthews to give him the group’s petition. Le is still working on an alternative to Transportation Services’ plan with 2012 graduate Adam Powers, who formerly served on the Transportation Policy Committee.