In 2006, California State University San Marcos was growing rapidly. The campus master plan called for expanding the student body from 7000 to 25,000 students by 2030, within the footprint of the existing 304-acre campus. The parking lots of a largely commuter school will be transformed into academic buildings, student housing, tree-lined paths, and quadrangles. Handling this growth by simply building parking would have required thousands of spaces in costly new garages and exacerbated traffic congestion.
To address this challenge, the University engaged Nelson\Nygaard Consulting to prepare a comprehensive transportation plan. Patrick Siegman directed the study while a Principal at Nelson\Nygaard. Working closely with a “town/gown” advisory group composed of campus stakeholders and representatives from the City of San Marcos, regional government, and the local transit agency, the project team developed a new plan.
Using cost-benefit analyses, the plan analyzes when, how, and where it would be cost-effective for the University to invest in improving transit, rideshare, bicycling, and carshare programs and incentives. To ground the work, the team mapped the home locations of all campus affiliates. New shuttle routes and other commute programs and services are tailored to serve these locations. Capitalizing on a new light rail stop on campus, the plan proposes a deep-discount group transit pass program, to provide free transit to all campus affiliates.
The plan concluded that by emulating the most cost-effective practices in use at comparable universities, CSU San Marcos can reasonably expect to achieve a 38% reduction in future parking demand, allowing the University to avoid building nearly 5000 structured parking spaces. Thanks to savings on parking construction, the total cost of this strategy will be similar to a “parking only” approach, while helping the University meet its goals of stewarding the environment, reducing traffic, and giving faculty, staff, and students better transportation choices.
Photos courtesy of CSU San Marcos