Since classes for our Spring semester started just last Wednesday, my approach to the university this morning (from freeway exit to parking garage) involved a huge line of cars, creeping very slowly. It also involved campus police directing the movement of long lines of cars at what is, in normal circumstances, a four-way stop. It has been this way since last Wednesday, and it will continue to be this week for probably another week.
In about a week, as if by magic, campus police will no longer be needed to move the traffic, and the lines of cars at any given moment will be reduced by at least 50%.
Why, I wondered as I creeped up in the line toward the garage, does the getting-to-campus traffic always show such a sharp improvement about two weeks into the term? Do the two weeks of traffic hell persuade people to shift their commutes just a little bit earlier? To park in the remote lots, or to car pool, or to take the light rail?
Do the traffic-directing efforts of the campus police actually exacerbate the traffic problems?
Then the flash of understanding: In another week or so, a good portion of the students — having secured permission codes to add the classes they really, really need to take to graduate (please!!!) — will stop coming to class.