The American Planning Association (APA) recently announced the winners for its annual regional and statewide planning awards. Multiple UCLA ITS research projects and programs received recognition from various chapters. 

Planning Landmark

UCLA ITS itself was given the Planning Landmark Award for the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Symposium by the APA Los Angeles chapter. Since its creation in 1991, this event brings together industry professionals to discuss the connections between transportation, land use and the environment. This past year’s session focused on creating a just transportation recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Planning Pioneer

The late Martin Wachs was honored by both APA LA and APA California with the Planning Pioneer Award. Wachs, who passed away in April, was a preeminent figure in transportation planning. Not only did he have an illustrious academic career spanning seven decades, but he is remembered for his teaching, service, and drive to advance the field. He was the founding director of UCLA ITS. 

Academic Awards

Three UCLA Urban Planning graduates were honored with APA awards. 

Sam Speroni, MURP ‘20 received APA LA’s award of excellence for his capstone project, “School Transportation Equity for Vulnerable Student Populations through Ridehailing: An Analysis of HopSkipDrive and Other Trips to School in Los Angeles County.” Speroni worked with the ride-hailing service HopSkipDrive to analyze whether new mobility options could offer comparable school transportation options to foster youth, homeless students, and students with disabilities.

Mark Hansen, MURP ‘20 received APA LA’s award of merit for his master’s capstone project, “Need for Speed: Opportunities for Peak Hour Bus Lanes Along Parking Corridors in Los Angeles.” Hansen wanted to help improve the transit experience for the everyday rider and was particularly interested in bus lanes. He chose to work with LA Metro for his capstone to identify ideal parking lanes that could be converted into future peak-hour bus lanes for the city.

Maddy Ruvolo, MURP ‘20 received APA Northern California’s award of merit for her capstone, “Access Denied? Perceptions of New Mobility Services Among Disabled People in San Francisco.” In the Bay Area, home to Silicon Valley and the 2010s tech boom, new mobility services are particularly widespread. In light of the prevalence of these services and the significant transportation needs of the disability community, Ruvolo examined perceptions of new mobility among disabled people in San Francisco and made recommendations for improving transportation access for people with disabilities.

Lastly, a comprehensive report of the state’s falling transit ridership, “Transit Blues in the Golden State”, was recognized by various chapters — awards of excellence from APA Sacramento Valley and APA Inland Empire, and awards of merit from APA Central Coast, APA Northern California and APA California. In California , transit patronage plunged staggeringly, from 50% to as much as 94%, during the first half of 2020 amidst the worst global pandemic in a century. But transit’s troubles in the state date much earlier. From 2014 to 2018, California lost more than 165 million annual boardings, a drop of over 11%. This report examines public transit in California in the 2010s and the factors behind its falling ridership.

Best Practices

What’s Behind Recent Transit Ridership Trends in the Bay Area?”, a study that looked into the San Francisco Bay Area that until recently had bucked statewide declining ridership trends, received APA Northern California’s award of merit. The project provided an overview and analysis of underlying factors, along with more in-depth looks at the eight largest transit providers in the Bay Area.

Communications Initiative

Transfers Magazine, the biannual research publication of the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center, received the APA California award of merit. By emphasizing clear and simple language, Transfers provides a forum to increase awareness of the most pressing transportation issues today. The magazine is produced by an editorial team at UCLA and features condensed, accessible versions of peer-reviewed research articles and other scholarly work.