University of Missouri-Rolla students will present the results from their commuter bus system feasibility study to representatives of Fort Leonard Wood and the Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) on Thursday, May 4.
The six undergraduate students are enrolled this semester in a capstone course with Dr. Bill Ankner, executive director of the Missouri Transportation Institute, which is housed in Rolla. The class’ assignment was to develop a business plan for a new commuter bus system, which will help officials determine the best way to run the service from Fort Leonard Wood to Rolla and Lebanon.
“The members of our team chose to participate in this project because we wanted to work on something that we felt had the potential to have a lasting positive effect,” says Clayton Graham of St. Charles, Mo., a senior in business and management systems. “The hardest part of the project has been familiarizing ourselves with the transportation industry. None of us had much, if any, experience in the industry so we had to immerse ourselves in it.”
The public transit system could have two main benefits, says Graham. First, because many families stationed at the post have only one vehicle, spouses who would like to work are often unable to do so. A public transit system would give both spouses the option to work by eliminating dependence on a personal vehicle, potentially increasing the number of available workers and positively affecting the regional economy. Second, public transit could help reduce emission levels and prevent congestion on Interstate 44 as the region continues to grow.
“This project has the potential to positively impact the region for generations to come,” Graham adds.
The study is funded by a $70,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation to the MRPC, which is undertaking a market analysis for the new service with Dr. Lance Gentry, assistant professor of business administration at UMR.
If the transit system is a go, Ankner says he believes it could one day become a part of a federal test program to determine the viability of hydrogen rather than traditional motor fuels, using an existing MoDOT garage near Fort Leonard Wood’s main gate as a hydrogen fuel cell facility. UMR faculty could help develop the safety and storage of hydrogen as a fuel for transportation.
Students enrolled in the capstone course include:
- Stephanie N. Bell of Cherryville, Mo., a senior in business and management systems;
- Robert A. Belleville of Belleville, Ill., a junior in business and management systems and economics;
- Clayton Graham of St. Charles, Mo., a senior in business and management systems;
- Kelly A. Hopkins of Rolla, Mo., a senior in business and management systems;
- Nina E. Smith of St. Charles, Mo., a senior in business and management systems; and
- Bonnie Yates of St. James, Mo., a senior in information science and technology.