Rebecca Smith

The Nature Academy is focused on training a new generation of environmental leaders in sustainability, conservation, and ecological restoration. As part of the Nature Academy program, each intern writes a blog post and develops a project. The project provides an opportunity to take on responsibility in an area of interest, contribute to the goals of their team, and develop a skill or area of knowledge that can be added to the intern’s portfolio. The post may reflect the project or be a nature-related topic of personal interest to the intern.

For my project, I have chosen to work on making a case for public transportation to Matthaei. In order to show our need for public transportation to the botanical gardens, I collaborated with Andy Traugh, our visitor services manager, as well as other visitor services interns to create a survey to measure knowledge of Matthaei Botanical Gardens and interest in public transportation to the gardens. We hope that the data will tell us that the community would like to see public transportation to Matthaei. This will assist in our communications with University Transportation Services to provide public transportation.

The survey’s intended audience is a mix of University of Michigan students, visitors to both Matthaei and Nichols (university and local communities), and members of the botanical gardens and arboretum. Ensuring that the botanical gardens is open and accessible to the public and the university community is a part of the Matthaei-Nichols mission statement and the University of Michigan’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy.

Costs and Impact of Adding to an Existing University of Michigan Blue Bus Route to Include a Stop at Matthaei

Another part of my project looked into the cost and environmental impacts of adding the proposed bus route pictured here versus using an on-demand ride-share service. The findings indicate that it is more cost effective for the university to run the addition to the blue bus route for an entire day than it is to pay for one to two round trips per day between the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor Central Campus and Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The addition would cost approximately $40 in diesel for the buses, versus a cost of $24-$50 for a single round-trip ride-share service, with the price of the rise-share varying depending on availability, price increases, and elastic rush-hour prices. In addition, for the ride-share services, the average car would emit 139,520 grams of carbon per round-trip. A traditional blue bus would produce an additional 104,000 grams of carbon per day with the route addition. In comparison, a hybrid blue bus would only emit 78,000 grams. Another factor to consider is accessibility, which is one of the main reasons in the case for public transportation. For riders with wheelchairs or using other assisting devices, it can be harder to find accommodating ride-share cars, while blue buses are outfitted to be flexible to individuals with these needs.

Pictured here are current and proposed routes of the University of Michigan East Medical Campus bus. The proposed route would include Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

Rebecca Smith is from Jackson, Mich. She is currently a senior at University of Michigan majoring in women’s studies. She likes to kayak, go camping, and hike.

Current bus route

Current map showing the University of Michigan East Medical Campus bus route.

Proposed bus route to include Matthaei

Proposed bus route would include Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

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