Partner Highlight: Metro Transit

March 14, 2018 / By: SCP

Through the Sustainable Communities Partnership, Metro Transit is collaborating with St. Thomas courses to tackle important issues and provide students with hands-on learning experiences that make a real-world difference.

Kelly Morrell (Metro Transit) and Carleigh Munz (’18) sharing project outcomes with students at the Anderson Student Center.

It started last fall, when Metro Transit partnered with two courses on closely-related projects. The overarching goal of the projects was to promote public transit among college students with the hope of laying the foundation for lifelong use of public transit.

In one course, Marketing Research (MKTG 340) students developed a survey that asked their peers about their current transportation decisions as well as their perceptions of public transit. Not only did the survey yield valuable information about transit use by St. Thomas students, but it also served as a pilot survey that Metro Transit can use to inform their broader surveying efforts.

For Jenna DiGrado, a MKTG 340 student, one of the most valuable parts of the project was the interaction with Kelly Morrell, the point person at Metro Transit. Because of the close collaboration, Jenna writes, “we were able to understand the organization better as well as its mission.” That deeper understanding helped her group craft research-based recommendations that would be more meaningful for Metro Transit .‌

Class photo of COJO 344 and Kelly Morrell, Commuter Programs Specialist for Metro Transit. 

In another course, Writing for Strategic Communication (COJO 344), students worked to design a strategic communication plan and materials to promote transit use to and from campus. The outcomes included:

  • The Tommie Transit Pack, which has safety information, maps, and routes to popular destinations.
  • Activity cards that each have a type of activity (like “active afternoon” or “study date”), transit options for getting there, and other sights to see along the way.
  • All-day Metro Transit passes were made available at Tommie Central to give students a simple way to pay for their first bus or light rail trip.

As a whole, the campaign emphasizes how Metro Transit is a safe, convenient, and affordable way for students to traverse the Twin Cities.

COJO 344 students designed an array of activity cards to highlight some of the fun things that are easily accessible from campus via Metro Transit.

Elizabeth Dubanoski was a student in both courses that collaborated with Metro Transit last fall, so she "was able to hear many different perspectives on how Metro Transit impacts the people within the University.” She also felt the experience was valuable to her personally, explaining that learning about sustainable transportation options was something that she can now use in her daily decisions and efforts to live more sustainably.

Now, during this spring semester, our collaboration with Metro Transit has expanded to include five different courses working on four projects. The Spring 2018 projects range from improving customer satisfaction surveys for native Spanish speakers (with SPAN 320) to preventing littering at transit stops (with PSYC 334) and more (see full list here!).

As if that weren’t enough, Metro Transit is also providing data for the Economics Department’s annual Data Competition (DataCom). Teams of economics students will propose research questions, manage and analyze real-world data, and communicate findings to a panel of judges—including Metro Transit data scientists.

We love working with Metro Transit, and cannot wait to see what comes out of the collaboration between Metro Transit and Tommies this semester!