Students Partner with Local Agency to Study Sustainable Transportation
How “green” are the transportation options in and around Keene, New Hampshire, and how likely to succeed are new green options?
Those are the key questions that three Keene State geography majors, working with Professor Christopher Cusack, aimed to answer during the fall 2017 semester through a collaborative research project with the Southwest Region Planning Commission.
“This type of capstone experiential research would not be possible without the support of the Southwest Region Planning Commission,” notes Professor Cusack. “Their partnership adds meaning and value to the students’ research and certifies that the research findings will be used to inform meaningful decisions. Without question, it is a mutually beneficial relationship.”
In their 93-page report, “Are We There Yet? Sustainable Transportation in Keene and the Monadnock Region,” seniors Lisa Donnelly, Aimee Krafft, and Gabriela Pacheco summarized and analyzed data from two surveys.
They focused on three types of sustainable transportation: carsharing, membership-based services like Zipcar offering vehicle rental and easy access to self-service rental cars; ridesharing, in which personal vehicles are used to accommodate riders and passengers, including carpooling and paid services like Uber and Lyft; and public transportation, like buses.
One, conducted by the Southwest Region Planning Commission for the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation, collected data on interest in car sharing among residents of the Monadnock region. The other, conducted by Donnelly, Krafft, and Pacheco, focused on Keene State College students and looked at car sharing, ride sharing, and the Keene City Express bus.
What did they learn?
Carshare: Surveyed students liked the idea of a dedicated parking space for a Zipcar or other membership service, but overall were neutral about the idea of using such a service. Residents of the Monadnock region were more supportive of the idea. The researchers recommended that any new carshare program in Keene include outreach to students.
Rideshare: Students were very interested in ridesharing, and three-quarters of those surveyed indicated that they’d already used a ridesharing app. Female students expressed concern about safety when carpooling. The researchers recommended creating infrastructure to support rider safety, including adding content about safety precautions on the official New Hampshire rideshare website.
City Express: Students indicated that they’d like more off-campus stops and fewer on-campus stops. The student researchers mapped several new recommended stops, and also suggested a marketing campaign for the bus service that is aimed specifically at college-age adults.