SCP and Metro Transit: Planning for the future of transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul
Posted on December, 5th 2019
The University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) in St. Paul, Minnesota is a member of the EPIC Network. SCP collaborates with multiple communities and agencies in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region to engage students in problem solving around interrelated, community-identified projects that address ecological, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability.
SCP has cultivated a successful, multi-year partnership with the Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit that has launched multiple projects centered on regional and transit planning. Metropolitan Council is the primary regional policy making and planning agency for the Twin Cities metropolitan region, and Metro Transit operates an integrated, multi-modal network of transit services to the region. According to the Metropolitan Council, the partnership provided an opportunity to “kick-start” special projects: “Oftentimes we may have projects that require peripheral research, or we may have difficulty allocating staff resources to particular project areas, and SCP allows for sufficient flexibility and collaboration to really move projects and research forward.”
Course and Project Implementation
To address issues related to transportation, SCP and Metro Transit worked together to integrate nine projects into courses across disciplines that enhanced student knowledge and skills on transportation-related topics, while also advancing Metro Transit’s goals for transit planning and improvements. Courses included:
- A communications course in which students created marketing materials to promote transit services to college students.
- A marketing course in which students conducted surveys about transportation choices and preferences.
- A psychology of sustainability course that developed behavior change strategies to deter littering at transit stops.
- A business Spanish course in which students conducted customer satisfaction surveys with native Spanish speakers.
- A systems operations course and systems design course that developed standard operating procedures and associated technological solutions for a new vehicle tracking system.
- An economics/data analysis competition to identify research questions and glean real-world implications from transit passenger counts and ridership data.
- A social justice course to research the stories of transit riders and learn how services impact their lives.
Through working with aspiring student leaders, we have the opportunity to shape the future skills needed to overcome the many challenges that lie ahead for the Twin Cities metropolitan region (Metropolitan Council).
Many of the benefits from this partnership will enhance workforce development efforts and transit planning well into the future. The courses introduce students to the breadth of career opportunities within the field of transportation and provide grounding in emerging and highly desirable skills like data collection and analysis, systems design, market research, new communication strategies, and human factors/behavior. Metro transit gains an understanding of the transportation needs and preferences of the next generation of potential riders and opportunities to incorporate this knowledge into planning and system enhancements.
For more information, visit: https://www.stthomas.edu/osi/scp/
For questions about SCP, please contact Maria Dahmus (firstname.lastname@example.org), SCP Director.