Carless on campus: Using real-time info to create community

Today’s blogpost is brought to you by TransitScreen’s summer intern, Mac Bassett, a rising sophomore at George Washington University majoring in business administration.

Surviving college is one thing, but conquering the struggles on top of a balancing full class schedule, internships, and student organizations with maintaining an active lifestyle can prove truly cumbersome. To many students, living in Washington, DC, is exciting, but it can be stressful trying to navigate the plentiful modes of public transit.

Student walks across GW campus
A student walks across George Washington University’s downtown campus, located in DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood. (Photo via Washington Post)

As a sophomore at George Washington University (GW), located in DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, these burdens have become all too real and relatable. One may ask why students don’t bring their cars from home. Two reasons: cost and policy.

A vote was passed in 2007, in accordance with DC zoning regulations, imposing student parking restrictions in and around the Foggy Bottom campus in order to “build a substantial amount of additional space on campus to meet its long-term academic, student housing and other university needs,” according to GW’s website.

Underclassmen are not allowed to park cars on campus, and upperclassmen were faced with heavy parking fees for choosing to do so. Many students began to go carless, opting to leave their vehicles at home. With the sudden lack of parking, GW students were more inclined to make use of the District’s many convenient methods of transit.

GW implemented TransitScreen when its newly built Science and Engineering Hall (SEH) opened to the public in the fall of 2015. The modern design and purpose of SEH called for filling it with like-minded, progressive technology: TransitScreen.

Student checks bus times on screen
The TransitScreen at George Washington University’s Science and Engineering Hall, a blossoming community space for the campus.

TransitScreen reduces students’ travel-related stresses by providing them up-to-date, real-time information regarding public transit options around the building. It makes it easier to manage their time easily and efficiently and still get from point A to point B on time. In addition to the SEH building, GW also installed TransitScreens in Funger Hall and on its Mount Vernon campus in May 2017.

SEH’s TransitScreen has become a central hub for both the students and faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as the other colleges housed at the university. TransitScreen has created a space where students and neighbors post flyers, posters, and signs advertising upcoming student events, guest speakers, and concert information.

Having this space dedicated to community activity not only promotes student involvement, but also encourages students to break out from the “Foggy Bottom Bubble.” Giving students the ability to explore the city beyond their usual territory creates perspective and allows them to have more unique, personalized experiences during their time in DC.  This more informed campus also helps local businesses increase sales since students can manage their time more efficiently.

In the GW community, students and faculty are in such close proximity to world organizations, governments, and companies — which is why students need access to readily available information that will help them get to work, happy hour, and home again with little to no difficulties. Thanks in part to TransitScreen, community members now have the ability to plan where, when, and how to get to special events within the broader DC metro area.