Move Minnesota has been working closely with students and staff from Twin Cities colleges and universities in an effort to shift commuter behaviors to benefit students, their campus, and the environment. On a recent bus ride, Augsburg University staff joined Move Minnesota’s Theresa Nelson and Erik Thompson en route from their Minneapolis campus to Nicollet Ave’s Eat Street. While enjoying lunch at a local sandwich eatery, we sat down with the staff to better understand what motivates them, and what barriers they face when making transportation choices. Two of these riders included Mai Xee Vang and Ruby Murillo, (pictured from left and right, respectively) current staff and former students of Augsburg. Both commute from different parts of the Twin Cities, and agree that the campus landscape is incomplete without access to transit. Read on to discover their views on transit and what they learned from this experience.
Where do you currently live and commute to Augsburg from?
Ruby Murillo: I live in Minneapolis.
Mai Xee Vang: I live in the MSP Metro area.
How do you usually commute to campus?
RM: Depending on weather and my schedule, I usually walk, bike, or drive.
MXV: I drive.
How have you been impacted by the transportation options in your community?
My partner’s car was stolen a few months ago so we now share my car. This experience forced us to explore different forms of transportation because he was no longer able to drive to work. After learning more about the light rail, the bus lines, and even walking and biking options, we no longer feel the need to purchase another car like we originally intended to. I think we will stick to one car for as long we can… There are often times where neither of us drive to work. He bikes or takes the light rail to downtown and I walk or take the bus to Augsburg. While it was definitely unfortunate and stressful to have his car stolen, we are actually healthier now and saving the money that we were spending on car insurance, gas, and those high downtown parking prices.
I’ve recently moved to a suburb from St. Paul, where public transportation was much more accessible. Typically I drive to work because of the distance and traffic, but I found that my little sisters who don’t drive have limited options for getting around. One of my little sisters recently got a job in Woodbury and if she wanted to take public transit, she would have to ride a bus to Downtown St. Paul to loop back around to Woodbury (this bus only comes once every hour or so.) On days she’s not able to carpool or get rides, she’s decided to bike to work. This is her first job and first time biking as a commuting option, so she’s nervous because of the busy roads, but it would be her most convenient mode to get to work.
What was something you learned from this experience?
I learned that Augsburg staff have access to reduced monthly transit passes. I also learned that you only have to pay one time regardless of how many transfers you make within two hours.
I learned that there are plans to redo the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 94 near Augsburg to make it more visible and accessible. I also didn’t know that Augsburg contracts Move Minnesota for consultant work.
Was there anything from this experience that you will be sharing with others?
I learned about the Transit app and have already told several people about it! I used to dread looking up the transit website to try to guess what time the bus was coming, this app helps me get the information I need within seconds!
I am going to share with others the plans on rebuilding the pedestrian bridge.
What are your hopes for the future of Augsburg’s campus in regards to transit?
I hope that people feel safe and empowered to use different forms of transportation to reduce cost, carbon footprint, and stress.
I hope that Augsburg continues to give unlimited ride passes [valid during the school year] to students. I think it’s a great investment that supports accessibility for students to take public transit. As a previous student, walking and public transit were my main modes of transportation and I didn’t have access to unlimited transit passes. It was something I had to invest in on my own. Now that students get these passes, I believe students will be more interested and willing to utilize transit. It would be awesome if something like this could be implemented for staff and faculty as well!
Thank you to Augsburg University staff for sharing their perspectives and experience with us! We will be continuing this work throughout the year to co-create sustainable solutions for everyone on campus and the environment. If you would like to learn more about transit options for your school or place of work, reach out to Theresa Nelson, Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.