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UCLA State of the Commute Details How the Campus Community Navigated 2020

Aerial view Janss Steps

The annual State of the Commute report covers University commuting patterns during the academic year. 2020, however, was a year like no other. The newly released UCLA State of the Commute 2020 documents just how student and employee travel behavior was impacted by the pandemic and how UCLA Transportation adapted during this unprecedented year.

Thousands of UCLA commuters’ lives were altered when the safer-at-home order closed the campus to non-essential personnel in response to the spread of a novel coronavirus during March 2020. Suddenly, the majority of the UCLA population were conducting their work and studies from home. Trips to UCLA plummeted, with just over 19,000 people commuting to campus each day in 2020 compared to more than 67,000 daily commuters in 2019. In 2020, approximately 70% of all UCLA employees telecommuted and nearly 77% of UCLA students learned remotely.   

An analysis of commuting patterns in 2020 also shows that those who did come to campus, health care employees, and University frontline workers, including essential transportation staff, food service, maintenance, and custodial personnel, drove alone. Some commuters utilized sustainable transportation, but very few. Less than two percent carpooled or took public transit, with only one percent bicycling and just six percent walking. 

With so many in UCLA's workforce suddenly shifting to telework, a website was created to provide telecommuting information, tools, and support. The online resource offers checklists for managers, training opportunities, and help with telecommuting technologies.  

Despite the abrupt disruption from the pandemic, UCLA Transportation forged ahead with projects, including assisting with construction of LA Metro’s Purple Line Extension. A new transit pass was launched, offering graduate students fare-free unlimited bus and rail rides through Los Angeles, and significant roadway enhancements paved the way for improved pedestrian and bicycle safety. 

UCLA is currently preparing to welcome faculty, staff, and students back to campus in the fall. The State of the Commute reveals how UCLA Transportation is gearing up for this return by promoting safe and sustainable commuting options, innovating parking services to include contactless payments, all the while continuing to enhance remote work resources. As the report shows, despite a surreal situation, UCLA Transportation kept the campus moving forward.