NEWS BRIEFS: Free Rides Can’t Be ‘Spared’

Quick Summary

  • Road work: La Rue and Hutchison
  • Medical center among best of the ‘Best’
  • UCOP makes annual payroll disclosure

So far this year, Unitrans has done its part to “Spare the Air” 19 days, waiving fares for all passengers. Unfortunately, Unitrans can no longer spare the expense and will discontinue the free-ride program from Monday, Aug. 27, through the end of the year.

“With the high number of wildfires this year, Davis and the surrounding area have experienced an unprecedented number of Spare the Air days, more than Unitrans anticipated in its annual budget,” said Jeff Flynn, general manager of the UC Davis and city transit system, which is operated by the Associated Students of UC Davis.

Nineteen Spare the Air days — most recently last Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 18-19) and including 15 days in a row, July 27-Aug. 10 — is two more than the total number of Spare the Air days in the past two years combined.

Unitrans is one of the last transit systems in the region to provide free rides on Spare the Air days. Free rides are meant to encourage people to leave their cars at home on days when the Air Quality Index hits 126 in the range of “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

“The program, though, has not resulted in higher transit usage,” Flynn said. Nevertheless, he said, Unitrans will bring back free rides on Spare the Air days for a limited number of days in 2019 with the hope that more people will take advantage. “With fewer cars on the road, we’ll have a lessening of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “Not only that, but most of our buses run on natural gas, which burns cleaner than diesel.”

Firefighters join wildfire efforts again

One week after crews returned to campus from the front lines of the Ferguson Fire, a separate crew of UC Davis firefighters was on the road to another wildfire.

The team — Capt. Joe Newman, engineer Derek Carthy, and firefighters Corrie Beall and Chad Cunningham — left in the pre-dawn hours Monday aboard Brush Truck 34 headed to the Mendocino Complex, northeast of Ukiah.

That incident, which is actually two separate fires, is a total of 405,000 acres and 74 percent contained as of this morning (Aug. 21), the U.S. Forest Service said.

Bear recovering after burn treatment

A bear cub who was treated by UC Davis and California Department of Fish and Wildlife veterinarians after being burned in the Carr Fire is recovering well, that state agency said.

"The bear is spunky and very wild, either bluff charging or running away from staff when it’s time for treatment," the Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a Facebook post, noting the behavior is a good sign.

The cub was the third bear ever to receive bandages made from sterilized fish skin — a treatment developed by Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Read more in this Aug. 13 article.

Road work: La Rue and Hutchison

Design and Construction Management announced the start this week of $1.7 million worth of road and pavement improvements and related work on the west side of the main campus, including La Rue Road and Hutchison Drive.

  • Starting this week — The contractor, Western Engineering Inc. of Loomis, will rebuild the walkway along the southbound lanes of La Rue Road, southwest of Aggie Stadium, and remove parts of the La Rue median at the Hutchison Drive and Garrod Drive intersections, providing extra room for improved traffic flow.
  • Wednesday-Friday, Aug. 29-31 — Pothole repair in Parking Lot 47 along La Rue Road east of the Tercero Residence Area.
  • Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 6-8 — Repair and repaving of the intersection of La Rue Road and Hutchison Drive, the campus’s west entry. Detour information will be posted here.
  • Saturday, Sept. 8 — Repair of potholes and cracked pavement along Hutchison Drive in the vicinity of the Silo.
  • Lastly, the contractor will rebuild the southbound lanes of La Rue from Hutchison to Garrod. During construction, southbound traffic on La Rue will be diverted to the northbound side of the road, which will be converted to two-way traffic. (Construction this summer is limited to the southbound lanes.)

The contract also includes safety improvements on Hutchison west of La Rue. They include extending the median to block left turns at Extension Center Drive (which provides access to the Rec Pool) — in other words, Extension Center Drive will become right-turn-in and right-turn-out only. Bike lanes will be painted green.

Medical center among best of the ‘Best’

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” for 2018-19, released last week, declare UC Davis Medical Center to be one of the best of the best: No. 1 in Sacramento and No. 5 in California (and the only Sacramento hospital in the top 10). The annual rankings are based on hospitals’ treatment of patients with serious and challenging injuries and illnesses.

UC Davis Medical Center earned top-20 or top-50 national rankings in 11 areas of adult specialty services (rankings in parentheses): gynecology (14), nephrology (16), urology (19), ear, nose and throat (20), geriatrics (21), pulmonology (26), neurology and neurosurgery (28), cardiology and heart surgery (34), cancer (36), orthopedics (37), and diabetes and endocrinology (48).

Read the UC Davis Health news release.

UCOP makes annual payroll disclosure

The UC Office of the President last week publicly disclosed the university’s compensation data to employees systemwide in calendar year 2017. Compensation data is released annually as part of the university’s commitment to transparency and public accountability, and is consistent with similar practices at many other public institutions.

The latest payroll data, along with a summary analysis, is available online. UC officials pointed out that employee compensation at public institutions like the university is considered a public record under the California Public Records Act. UC personnel policies — PPSM-80 for staff and APM-160 for academic appointees — specify the information (such as name, position title and salary) that, in general, the university shall release upon request.

At UC Davis, questions about access to payroll data may be directed to Jana Gabby, information practices coordinator, by phone, 530-752-8715; or by email to the Public Records Office.

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