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Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mobility Study

San Luis Obispo, California
Firm Role
Multimodal transportation planning; parking and transportation demand management planning
2004 – 2005
25,372 faculty, students, and staff on a 9,678-acre campus
Place Type

In 2004, Cal Poly’s Campus Master Plan provided a clear vision for the future of the University. Over the coming decade, enrollment would grow by some 2,000 students and campus residential population would more than double. New buildings would replace close-in parking lots.

The Cal Poly Mobility Study provides parking and transportation analyses, forecasts, and recommendations to help the University realize this vision. Patrick Siegman directed the study while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting. Carl Walker Inc. assisted Nelson\Nygaard by reviewing parking operations and enforcement.

To evaluate the University’s options for handling its growing population and shrinking parking supply, the study investigated the use, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of the University’s transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and rideshare programs, relied on by roughly two-thirds of the campus population. The project team also mapped parking occupancy, forecast future parking supply, demand, costs, and revenues, and analyzed parking price elasticity of demand.

Previous studies had assumed that parking prices had no effect on parking demand. They forecast that Cal Poly would need to build a $17 million parking structure in the central campus. By contrast, our team’s analysis took into account the effects of the parking price increases required to pay for the University’s planned residential garages. We found that the decrease in demand caused by rising parking prices would eliminate any need for the proposed garage. Our analyses also found that Cal Poly’s transit, bicycle, and rideshare programs were highly effective, helping students, faculty, and staff reach campus at a small fraction of the cost of building and operating new parking structures. We recommended expanding these.

What happened? Between 2001 and 2011, the number of commuter parking permits issued per capita fell by half. Transit ridership doubled, and the proposed central campus garage proved unnecessary.

Images courtesy of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo