We have started our final project in CAS 110, all class members were divided into groups to tackle different problems on campus. The one I was assigned has to do with bussing on campus. We were asked to write 500 words detailing the problem. Below is my essay:
Bussing is one of the most widely used forms of public transportation. From big cities to smaller towns, buses have provided us with the efficient means of getting from A to B. However, with a growing population and longer distances to be traveled how can buses maintain their efficiency? This is a problem that needs solving, and I think that by solving the busing issues on campus here at Michigan State, we can offer insight into what might need to change on a larger scale.
There are 48 bus routes that run through the greater Lansing area through the CATA bus system, 24 of which run through Michigan State’s campus. Unlike our rival school, the University of Michigan, Michigan State does not have its own bus system. Why? Many argue it is because of the cost, however, MSU and U of M’s campuses are about the same size (according to interactive maps on both school websites). The CATA bus system’s routes have proven to cover a wide range of areas so that getting around without a car should be hassle-free. The CATA system does have a very bad reputation among students for being unreliable, confusing, and a bit pricey. How can this system be changed in order to keep students riding their buses?
CATA has made recent strides on social media in order to get feedback from their customers. According to the Ingham County Chronicle, CATA has started Facebook and Twitter accounts to hopefully change the perception of their service. Laurie Robinson, the director of marketing for CATA, says that using social media has allowed the company to “tell the story on their terms.” Is this enough though? With only 800 Twitter followers, and more than 40,000 students on MSU’s campus alone, their reach is far from successful.
Students who are following the account were a little disappointed in how their complaints were handled. One student said she missed a meeting because the bus wasn’t on time and all the CATA could offer her was a half-hearted apology. This is another problem with the CATA bus system, how reliable is their service?
By talking with other students, I’ve heard horror stories about missing exams because buses were extremely late or just never showed up. At every bus stop, CATA posts a sign with the times that the buses are supposed to arrive. Most weekdays, bus routes are pretty consistent from coming every 5-10 minutes. They offer precise times for later at night as well as on the weekends. The CATA is notorious for being either a few minutes early or a few minutes late, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when students depend on these buses to get to and from class every day, time is of the essence.
I think that some major changes need to be set in motion in order for the CATA to still be a viable method of transportation on-campus. After researching the CATA system, there are definitely more negative views of the system than positive. I think that by communicating with CATA as well as students, we can find a way to change the bus system in a way that will make it efficient for students in generations to come.
My group is filled with some really cool, creative individuals, so I know together we can brainstorm a realistic solution to this problem. I am looking forward to getting started on the project!