︎︎︎ 19 november 2020
Through the fall semester of our senior year, I collaborated alongside my peers Emma Sorrells, Ella Mauck, and Maddy Ward on a research project and presentation about transportation.
Our guiding question for this research project was: How might we encourage college-aged students to reduce their dependency on personal vehicles?
After engaging in a variety of research methods, we decided our best approach was to entice and educate citizens about the city's public transit system.
Currently, the majority of bus stops in Fayetteville, Arkansas lack amenities and mostly make the transit system inconvenient to use unless you need to get to campus. In addition to covering more neighborhoods and points of interest in town, there are several additions the transit's stops could make to increase the number of riders and ultimately have people reduce their dependency on personal vehicles.
As a group, we prototyped a system with three touchpoints.  An intercom system that is attached to a shelter. The shelter encourages riders to consider public transit even in unpleasant weather. Additionally, the intercom system can aid those who are blind/have poor vision as it would announce the bus route and estimated arrival time of the next bus.  A large guide that informs riders of the bus route and bus stop they're currently at. While there is currently a live bus tracker online, this can't be used by people who don't have a phone or data. An informative guide at each stop shows where the bus is coming from and where it's going which is especially helpful for people who are unfamiliar with the fare-free service.  Commissioned benches would support local creatives and provide riders a place to rest and set objects down. This is particularly useful near grocery stores and shopping centers. The seating would be inviting as they would become small unique points of interest and ultimately increase curb appeal.
This topic is extensive and there will always be something new to learn and consider. For instance, our study decided to omit the fact that COVID-19 has reduced the number of riders and frequency of rounds. These changes could only be tested when it is safe to be in enclosed spaces with strangers. Additionally, urban planning budgets or construction regulations were not considered.
In conclusion, a decrease in usage of personal vehicles reduces an individual's environmental impact, reduces traffic congestion, provides a safer mode of transportation, and increases personal savings. Fayetteville residents should encourage their representatives and local organizations to invest in public transportation for the overall betterment of the community.