FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2009
Contact: K.E. Schwab
Bus efficiency, green bikes and environmental conference
receive funding from Green Fund Advisory Board
Second in a series
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In Italy the trains run on time, and at Slippery Rock University the buses will run on time and efficiently, or students will know why, after a $40,000 upgrade is completed as part of the Student Government Association's shuttle bus service plan.
Funding for the upgrade is coming through a matching grant approved by the Green Fund Advisory Board.
The shuttle bus upgrade project is one of nine "green" projects funded through a $73,598 allocation from the University after students sought approval of the fund's creation. The student initiative was met with SRU Council of Trustee approval last June. Under the plan, project that involves on-campus environmental initiatives or those that involved the community may be submitted for consideration by the advisory board.
In the initial round, nine of 15 projects were recommended by the board and subsequently approved by SRU President Robert Smith.
(The first three approved projects were described in last week's rockpride online; the final three will be profiled next week.)
Projects receiving funding approval in the first year are:
>Purchase of trash/recycling containers - $12,250;
Electric meters to monitor usage in Spotts World Culture Building and Eisenberg Classroom Building - $15,000;
A March 28 campus clean up project, $350 (see related photos in this issue);
An "I Ride the Bus" project - $20,000;
Expansion of the Green Bike Initiative Student Outreach, Cycling Infrastructure and Practical Art - $5,748;
Power Shift 2009 Conference attendance support - $650;
Renovations to Harmony House - $8,600;
Purchase of a recycling baler - $5,500; and
Construction of an SRU Disc Golf Course - $5,000.
"I Ride the Bus" project - $20,000
The "I Ride the Bus" project includes purchase of a computer tracking system from NextBus for the campus shuttles. The system is to be launched in August.
"The overall concept is to make the campus shuttle bus system more environmentally friendly by making it easier to ride the bus; which means fewer people will drive, thus reducing carbon emissions," said Tyson Johnston, vice president for SGA and project chair. He said shuttle bus usage has increased more than 300 percent this year and further increases are anticipated.
The technology supplies GPS signals allowing riders to use their cell phone or other technologies to track where the bus is on its route and its estimated arrival time at a particular stop. The devices also automatically count riders.
"With more and more frustrated SRU drivers turning to the bus as the preferred method of transportation on and around campus, the need for a more accurate, reliable and environmentally aware system has never been greater. This infrastructure devise is a sophisticated piece of modular technology fitted directly into each bus. This small piece of equipment provides GPS and automatic passenger counting technology that will aid in the attainment of more efficient and precise routing schedules. These efficiencies will reduce bus idle time, fuel consumption and traffic congestion and student anxiety," said Johnston, geography and environmental studies major from Meadville.
Data collected by the system will be available for use by academic departments involved with computer modeling samples.
Expansion of the Green Bike Initiative Student Outreach, Cycling Infrastructure and Practical Art - $5,748
A number of SRU student clubs, organizations and academic departments, including Leave It Green, the SRU Cycling Club, the SRU Outing Club, SRU Geography Club, the Environmental Geosciences Society, campus recreation, the exercise and rehabilitative sciences, physical education, parks and recreation/environmental education departments and the Office of Student Life joined in support of the this project. The SRU art department, Bailey Library and the Robert N. Aebersold Student Recreation Center are partnering organizations.
The submitted plan, prepared by Alex Kopko, a safety and environmental management major from Shippenville, calls for SRU art students to create five bicycle racks from recycled materials as campus sculpture and for the purchase of 10 bicycles that will become part of a semester-long loaner program. Students will apply for and be selected to use one of the bikes. A lock will also be provided.
Students participating in the bike borrowing program need to complete a bicycling education and maintenance program before given access.
Under the approved plan, the newly created racks will be "added to the campus to increase bicycling culture friendliness as well as provide artwork and aesthetic qualities to the campus that can be viewed by anyone on campus. Also, even though the bicycles are used as an educational tool, they will be a lasting infrastructure on campus providing many miles of sustainable travel for students," Kopko said.
Kopko said a beneficial side effect of the proposal is to "provide sustainable transportation and education that will reach beyond the confines of Slippery Rock University."
Power Shift 2009 Conference attendance support - $650;
Slippery Rock University sent nine students to the Power Shift 2009 conference in Washington, D.C., last February and will use its approved grant to repay part of the trip's $1,800 cost.
Project partners included SRU's College of Health, Environment and Science and the department of parks, recreation and environmental education along with the Leave It Green organization and the Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research.
An educational and activities project, the conference provided a progressive and educational atmosphere teaching skills in campus organizing, environmental justice, energy issues, dealing with the media and other topics related to leaders in the environmental movement. It promoted critical thinking skills and the issue of sustainability through workshops and panel discussions involving leaders from the scientific community and environmental movement.
The grant application was led by Joshua McGinnis, sustainable systems major from East Dubuque, Ill., who said a primary benefit in attendance was the fact participants could bring back to campus skills and training about environmental issues to share with others. He cited one session titled "How to Get Average Students to Care About Global Warming" that will now be used on campus.
"The entire student body will also benefit as a result of the direct actions that take place after the conference as it was a highly motivating and inspiring weekend," he said. To further support his funding request, McGinnis pointed to SRU's Green Fund committee that got its start at a similar conference. "If that group of students had not learned those very skills at this same conference, there is a very good chance that The Green Fund would not exist today," McGinnis said.
Next week details on the final three funded projects will be covered.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.