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The College of Environmental Design (ENV) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban and Regional Planning; undergraduate degrees in Art History and Graphic Design; and a minor and graduate degree in Regenerative Studies. It also manages operations of two permanent University Art Galleries, the W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery and the Don B. Huntley Gallery.
Learn by Doing at ENV
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Message from the Dean
Some Lessons I’ve Learned from Taking the Bus to Campus
All I can say is, if you have to break your ankle, try to break your left ankle, not the right one.
Otherwise, if you rely on driving a car to get to Cal Poly Pomona, you may be in a predicament while your right foot is in a cast for several weeks, meaning that you can’t drive a car because you can’t use your right foot to press on the accelerator. This is what I learned when I fractured a small bone in my ankle due to slipping on a staircase on campus.
When I first started as ENV Dean in 2009, commuting by bus between LA and Cal Poly Pomona used to take three hours, an unacceptably long trip for most commuters. Instead, like most members of the Cal Poly Pomona community, I’m partially responsible for our reputation as a commuter school because I’ve made a conscious decision to commute by car. This works well because, as a Los Angeles resident, most of my trips to and from Pomona are “reverse commuting,” driving against the main flow of auto traffic.
But my sudden loss of the driving option led me to take another look at the bus. The Foothill Transit website told me that I could ride the Silver Streak express bus from Union Station to the El Monte regional bus station and then transfer to a local bus taking me to the bus stop on the edge of the Cal Poly Pomona campus in about 90-100 minutes.
The first time I tried it, I discovered that it wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. The website didn’t make the bus departure point clear to me. When I asked a car-driving friend to drop me off at at the bus loop on the east end of Union Station, I couldn’t find the right bus stop. I tried to ask security guards for directions, but they weren’t very user-friendly to a stranger on crutches. Eventually, I found out that the correct bus stop actually was located outside the far opposite end of Union Station, which meant scurrying with a backpack and crutches for about 10-15 minutes to find the right bus stop.
Also, while the Silver Streak express bus between Union Station and El Monte was very fast, with few stops between Union Station and El Monte, the second bus connection included many local stops on the way to Cal Poly Pomona. The overall trip from downtown to the campus took about two hours, not the 90-100 minutes promised by the Foothill Transit website trip estimator.
Another problem is the location of the Foothill Transit bus stop on the outskirts of the Cal Poly Pomona campus at Temple Avenue and Campus Drive. It doesn’t make sense. While the Bronco Shuttle Line A does connect to the existing bus stop, it would be much more convenient if the University allowed Foothill Transit to directly pick up and deliver passengers at a more central location on the campus.
To find a way around taking the slow local bus from the El Monte bus station to the campus, I figured out that I could just stay on board Foothill Transit’s Silver Streak express bus service from Union Station all the way to the Pomona Transit Center. The express bus from Union Station reaches downtown Pomona in only about an hour. Taking advantage of my disabled/senior discount, it’s a real bargain for $1.25 one-way. Then, to address the “last-mile connection” problem that often discourages prospective transit riders, I take Lyft to carry me from the bus stop directly to my door at Building 7, about 15 minutes, for about $6.50-$8 (depending on the the time of day and the level of ridesharing service). The overall trip can be completed in about 75 minutes, for about $8-$11. And now that I’m not driving a car, I don’t have to compete with other drivers looking for campus parking.
Like other transit commuters, I can get some work done during the commute, and not only in the way you might imagine. For example, when I left my house on a recent morning, the Lyft driver was the manager of a furniture warehouse driving for Lyft to earn some extra money. When I told him that I worked at Cal Poly Pomona, the driver told me that his 27-year-old son was trying to decide between studying chemistry at Cal Poly or at other schools that had admitted him. I gave the driver my business card and suggested that his son contact me so that I could help him decide. Then, on the next leg of my morning commute after riding the bus to Pomona, the Lyft driver taking me to Building 7 told me that his 15-year-old daughter was interested in studying graphic design in college. I handed the driver my business card and told him that his daughter should follow up with me about ENV’s graphic design major.
Giving up on the driving habit, even temporarily, might make you feel like you’re losing some of your freedom. But public transit and ridesharing can work, if you persevere.
(Written on my laptop while riding the Silver Streak from Union Station to Pomona Transit Center)
About Cal Poly Pomona
As one of only six polytechnic universities nationwide, the hallmark of Cal Poly Pomona is the learn-by-doing philosophy, directly stemming from its polytechnic mission. By blending theory and practice in all its disciplines, the University recognizes that students tackling classroom problems today will be the employees solving real-world problems tomorrow. Students are afforded opportunities to apply their knowledge in hands-on projects, collaborate with faculty members on research, and participate in valuable internships and service-learning programs.