With college debt becoming a serious concern for many KSC students, some are looking at different ways to save money: car sharing might be one way, using the bus might be another.
One area where they could cut costs is transportation, as discovered by “Are We There Yet? Sustainable Transportation in Keene and the Monadnock Region,” a 93-page report conducted by KSC geography majors Aimee Krafft and Gabriela Pacheco and now geography alumna Lisa Donnelly.
Professor of Geography Dr. Chris Cusack said he met with the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) to come up with a project to offer his students as their senior capstone project, a research project geography seniors must complete in partnership with an external organization.
While MAST did research on the entire Monadnock region, Donnelly, Krafft and Pacheco focused on the Keene area.
The three students worked with representatives from the organization and had to create their own original surveys, disseminate it in the area and do statistical analysis with the results, Cusack said. “That’s what we set out to do. To see what is the interest of the Keene State College student population for these various alternatives,” Cusack said.
The group looked at three methods of transportation, bus and carpooling/carsharing, along with what benefits and challenges each had to offer.
One discovery made by the survey was that 89 percent of students surveyed don’t ride the City Express bus.
“The bus stops several times around campus, but because the campus is so small, students don’t really need to use it as a campus shuttle, and when they do use it, they use it to go off campus,” Donnelly said.
The survey asked students for places where they would like the bus to stop. “They offered a lot of off-campus stops that they’d prefer over on-campus stops for the bus,” Krafft said.
The group also looked into the prospects of carsharing.
“Smith College, not too far away in Massachusetts, does have car share… if it works there, it could work here, is what the students found,” Cusack said.
“In order for carsharing to succeed in Keene, there would need to be a pretty large effort put into educating the public about how carsharing works and doing other kinds of promotional outreach,” Donnelly said.
One interesting fact Krafft said was that students would support having an on-campus parking spot dedicated to ridesharing, despite KSC’s limited amount of parking space.
Ridesharing found itself a high interest level among the students surveyed with 74 percent of respondents reporting that they’ve used a ridesharing app in the past, but also brought major concerns from female students about safety.
In spite of the challenges these three alternative transportation methods face, the findings of the survey indicate that they are options that KSC students are interested in.
“Geography students found that Keene State students are most interested in saving money. That was the biggest benefit as opposed to reducing air pollution or vehicle miles traveled,” Cusack said.
Donnelly herself understands how important saving money can be for college students.
“If your transportation options are less expensive and they’re convenient and you use them, there’s a potential there to save a lot of money, and I know on a college student’s budget that might actually be really important sometimes.”
Vincent Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org