“There’s an old saying: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. The same could be said about traffic. We all want it to go away, but many of us—and I include myself here—just keep driving the same old way.

I’m out to change that. I’ve been combing the Southland to find better ways to get where we’re going, meeting real people who rideshare in an effort to learn the ways they’re making L.A. a better place to live and travel. It’s been an inspiring journey so far, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.”

When we heard those remarks spoken by Huell Howser on the air a little more than five years ago, we knew we were in for something special. UCLA Transportation and its alternative commuter programs were selected by him for a profile in his Visiting….with Huell Howser public television series. He simply asked for face time with several UCLA commuters who were doing their part to decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality. On August 13, 2007, Huell spent a day at UCLA talking to carpoolers, vanpoolers, public transit riders and bike commuters as well as a few other Bruins he met while on campus.

Huell Howser interviewing a bicyclist on the UCLA campus.

We were thrilled that someone synonymous for decades with going across the state in search of “California’s Gold” had come to learn how UCLA Transportation was turning Blue and Gold—our University colors– into green with our green commuter options. Huell had a smile that seemed to exude California sunshine and we were privileged and honored to have him showcase our campus transportation programs and for making them shine as brightly as he did.

Huell Howser with UCLA Fleet & Transit Director Sherry Lewis in front of a Metro bus on campus.

Those of us who were there that day working on logistics for the shoot and accompanying Huell and his cameraman around campus witnessed something unforgettable. When he was between individual interviews and focusing on what was to be filmed next, time after time we would see campus employees—as soon as they recognized him–stop what they were doing and literally run up to Huell to shake his hand, compliment his work or take a picture with him.

We concur with the tremendous outpouring of praise and sentiment from so many thousands of people saddened over the passing of Huell Howser. He was a true state treasure. What you saw on TV was how he really came across in person. A highlight of Howser’s visit here that day was the opportunity for several of us to sit down with him over lunch in the De Neve Residential Restaurant. None of us present remember what we ate that day, but all of us will never forget how good Huell made each of us feel.