For some time, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority has been working to change their routes downtown — and they’re getting some help from students at The University of Toledo.
Right now, TARTA is working on finding a way to replace its five-station bus loop downtown with a single bus terminal. To do this, TARTA is considering route proposals from Taslima Akter and Jonathon Ousky, two UT grad students.“It may seem small,” said Dr. Bhuiyan Alam, associate professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, “but given that TARTA is the sole public transportation system in Lucas County and since it involves 12 major blocks in the heart of the city, changing this plan and the proposal given by the students is very important and will have a long-term impact on downtown Toledo.”
Akter and Ousky are part of a planning workshop class led by Alam. For a semester, they analyzed data from TARTA and came up with proposals for changing most of the routes that would lead into the downtown hub.
“We could change whatever we wanted, but our main concern was to reduce the route length,” Akter said.
And the students were successful in that sense — if TARTA accepts their proposal, they could save up to 46 hours of driving time each week. This would have an impact on the amount of time riders spend on buses, as well as the amount of gas used by TARTA.
“It could be convenient for both TARTA and the passengers,” Akter said.
Alam has taught this course for six years, with the exception of 2014 when he was on sabbatical. Each year, he tries to get his students involved in projects that have real impacts on the local community.
In the past, students in this course have researched predicted impacts of community hub schools on their students and communities, land-use classification and suitability analysis of walkability and bikeability in Toledo’s uptown district, brownfield redevelopment potentials in Toledo, and streetscape planning of Broadway Street in Toledo. This year, he approached TARTA, where officials were open to receiving help from students.
Throughout the semester, the students worked and met with TARTA officials to create their proposal. TARTA gave the students suggestions, reviewed drafts of routes, and answered their questions.
“It’s been a really nice experience for me to work with TARTA, and I’m surprised by how much they helped us to complete the project,” Akter said.
Though no plans have yet been finalized for TARTA’s downtown hub, administrators have a wealth of ideas for routes to use thanks to the efforts of these two students.
For more information on Alam’s Community Planning Workshop class, email Bhuiyan.Alam@utoledo.edu.