Transportation Tomorrow: Sustainable Transportation Outlook

Transportation Services is moving toward a more sustainable future


The UC Sustainable Practices Policy declares that all campuses should decrease greenhouse gas emissions by reducing drive-alone commute trips by ten percent from 2015 levels by 2025. UC Davis takes this responsibility seriously and Transportation Services commits to doing our part in meeting or exceeding the UC Office of the President directive.

If UC Davis were to take no steps to decrease driving, but instead build enough parking to meet future demand, the overall costs would exceed $300 million. That cost would be passed on to the campus community, doubling or tripling the cost of a parking permit. Taking the long-view now is the time for Transportation Services to bolster our support for the health of our community and our environment. In order to do that, we must bolster the use of sustainable transportation modes and take a dynamic look at how we can best adapt our services to meet transportation demand and changing work-commute patterns.

Transportation Tomorrow is the framework to accomplish our goals and create that future. Click here to jump to the 10 recommendations to achieve the Transportation Tomorrow vision. 

Planning for Transportation Tomorrow

A Vision of Greater Mobility and Connectivity for the Davis Campus 

The Office of Campus Planning is responsible for the development and physical articulation of the campus transportation network to ensure that the built environment fosters more sustainable transportation choices for the campus community. Please see their Transportation Planning page for more information on Long Range Development Plans, Urban Design, Environmental Design, and Landscape Architecture.

Mode Split
Data summarized in Transportation Tomorrow study of UC Davis commute mode split. (Transportation Tomorrow/June 2019)

About Transportation Planning

Sustainable Transportation ​​​Planning Study

Image of Transportation Tomorrow report cover.Transportation Services, with a consulting team, conducted a two-year planning study charting a new way towards a more sustainable future.  The report — Transportation Tomorrow — summarizes this effort and the resulting top ten recommendations.

⇒ Download the Report

Historically, UC Davis invested in parking infrastructure to keep pace with the demand for parking spaces. With the potential growth in the campus population as represented in the 2018 Long Range Development Plan, this historical approach poses significant risks, both financially and environmentally. Any investment in parking infrastructure, especially investments that are debt financed over a thirty-year period, are tremendously risky. 

Why should we own thirty years of debt for a parking structure that could be vacant in ten years?

Rather than invest in costly physical infrastructure that may be obsolete as mobility patterns shift due to emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, we want to double down on our legacy of sustainable transportation and move towards an even more sustainable future.

Daily Rates vs. Annual Permit

Commute patterns are changing and Transportation Services (TS) is adapting operations in a way that can better serve campus and Aggies with flexible work and class schedules. Introducing a daily parking option allows for the campus community to pay for parking as they need. You pay for the days you park, not for the days you don’t.

Daily Rate Balance

Daily rates for parking gives people a way to pay only for the parking they need, rather than having to pay for year or month at a time (whether they need it or not.) Today’s ‘unlimited’ parking permits are much cheaper than paying per use. It is therefore not a surprise that most people choose the bulk discount. By converting all parking to a daily charge, UC Davis will offer affiliates the ability to drive when they need and save money when they don’t.

Daily parking, combined with incentives and a commute platform, create a unified Mobility Marketplace for UC Davis. Rather than being locked into a one mode, users can choose the best way to come to campus each day.

Coming January 1, 2021

  • STUDENTS - Daily Rates Begin on January 1, 2021
    Daily parking rates take effect for students in C ($3/day) and L ($2/day) permit areas and may be paid for through the ParkMobile app. Monthly parking permits will no longer be available for students.
  • EMPLOYEES - Daily Rates Begin on July 1, 2021
    Daily parking rates take effect for employees in C ($3/day) and L ($2/day) permit areas and may be paid for through the ParkMobile app. (Pricing for daily A permit areas is still under review.) Monthly parking permits will no longer be available for employees. 

Learn more about Daily Rates

10 Recommendations to Achieve Transportation Tomorrow

COVIDNOTE: While many of the 10 recommended steps that came from the Transportation Tomorrow study are attainable, the onslaught of COVID-19 brought on world-wide health concerns, a significant loss in Transportation Services' revenue and, in some cases, caused a delay in planning efforts. We remain committed to sustainable transportation and will continue to push forward when it is appropriate (and safe) to do so.

Cost & Convenience: Level the Playing Field

Transportation Demand Framework: Currently, a private vehicle is the most affordable and convenient transportation choice for many campus affiliates, especially those who live outside of Davis. The following measures aim to level the playing field by making other choices more affordable and convenient.

  • A single unified online experience will offer users access to all mobility options, parking payment, and assistance, while offering UC Davis a powerful back end tool to unify all administrative systems into a single system. This tool could leverage the ten thousand people who drive to campus each day and build the greatest ride-sharing network in the world; campus affiliates could then pick up a classmate or colleague and park at a reduced rate.
  • Shifting from a “bulk discount” to an “a la carte” parking permit price will encourage affiliates to make daily decisions about whether driving makes sense. Parking prices will reflect the total cost of providing mobility to the UC Davis community, while avoiding the need to build more structured parking.
  • Enhance real and digital incentives to foster more use of shared and active modes. Develop an incentive structure that will constantly evolve through a system of feedback and goal-setting.
  • There are many parts of the region that are too far for active transportation, and not well served by transit. For affiliates who live in these areas, a carpool and vanpool program that makes it easy to find a match, and makes it easy for participants to split parking costs, will support their mode shift.
  • Today, Unitrans is the lifeline of undergraduate travel. Investments and programs that make Unitrans a better option for graduate students, faculty, and staff will extend its value. Foster partnerships with other transit providers.
  • Walking, bicycling, and other human-powered modes will always be essential mobility-solutions for the campus community. Programs that help people choose and stick with these modes will keep campus moving, discourage driving trips, and complement transit.
  • UC Davis must monitor emerging mobility options, and proactively partner with those that support mode shift goals, while limiting the potentially negative externalities of some technologies. Leverage ride-hail service providers to offer emergency rides home.

Culture: Engage Community

UC Davis will seek to actively nurture a culture that supports and celebrates healthy travel options. Campus leaders will play a key role when exploring possible shifts in cultural norms. When considering changes to their transportation behavior, stakeholders from the campus community emphasized the importance of campus leadership, and the need for a unified voice with a consistent message. The following measures aim to nurture a culture that supports more sustainable travel options.

  • Transportation Services staff will engage with all affiliate types on an ongoing basis, at key moments in the academic year. UC Davis will use geography, demography, and modality to target messages effectively, and will use multiple digital and analog channels to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message.
  • There are numerous policies that can support the sustainability goals of UC Davis. One of the most important policy shifts pertains to telework and other flexible work schedules; there is tremendous demand and interest among staff for these options. Other priority policy areas to be explored include shifting class schedules, altering recruitment narratives and employee on-boarding practices, and considering online learning platforms on rainy days. Developing policies that encourage the use of mobility options for mid-day and on-campus trips will help affiliates leave the car at home.

Built Environment: A World-Class Campus

UC Davis will reinvest in the central campus to greatly improve the safety and connectivity of the transportation network. Regardless of transportation choice, every campus affiliate begins and ends their daily commute as a pedestrian. Currently, there are many parts of the campus circulatory network that are inadequate and outdated; navigating the campus has become quite challenging for all modes. As the amount of campus housing significantly increases over the next ten years, we will need to separate modes of travel, improve safety for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, and enhance the circulatory connectivity across campus.

  • With more people living on campus, today’s bicycle and pedestrian network will not offer adequate capacity or user separation for comfort and safety in the future. Significant improvements to pedestrian promenades and bicycle pathways will be necessary for safe and comfortable passage of people across campus. Upgrading the campus network, separating modes, minimizing conflict points, enhancing wayfinding, and providing end-of-trip facilities will all combine to offer a world-class campus experience.