Page One

All commuters are not equal

Rick Young
Saturday March 16, 2002



In his March 6, 2002 letters to the Daily Planet, UC Berkeley Director of Transportation Nadesan Permaul outlines his reasons for not supporting a bus pass program for UC Berkeley employees.  

Mr. Permaul argues asserts that the program would be ineffective and inequitable, providing a disproportionate subsidy for one transit user group on the campus while only meeting the needs of a limited number faculty and staff. It would seem that Mr. Permaul would support only programs that treat every commuter equally. 

But not every commuter should be treated the same by the University. What Mr. Permaul fails to consider is the inequitable impact that those who drive to campus have on the environment and local community. Each additional driver decreases air quality and adds to the impact of global warming. Moreover, every additional car on the road is an added threat to those who walk and bike. Furthermore, driving adds to the traffic congestion, slowing those who wisely choose to take the bus.  

Of all the commuter choices, driving has the most disproportionate impact. It is only fair that drivers compensate for their costs by supporting programs that reduce driving.  

As the so-called flagship institution of the UC system, UC Berkeley has the potential to set a shining example of ecological concern and efficiency. Rather than dismissing programs such as a bus pass, Mr. Permaul should support innovative solutions that reduce the impacts of driving.  

Instead, Mr. Permaul furthers auto dependency by supporting projects such as the three-story Underhill Parking Structure, which will hold approximately 1400 cars when completed. Such regressive thinking is not surprising coming from Mr. Permaul. Unlike the City of Berkeley, which utilizes energy efficient three-wheeled vehicles for parking enforcement, UC Berkeley’s Transportation Department’s vehicles of choice are none other than SUVs. 

Nad Permaul is nothing more than cheerleader for cars. UC Berkeley can do better.  


Rick Young 

Berkeley resident and  

UC Berkeley alum