In the summer of 2015, the Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children (CFDS) published a report that included recommendations on critical changes that need to take place to improve the education ecosystem in Detroit. The report discussed transportation to school as a critical barrier. Currently, Detroit has no equitable or reliable transportation system for all students in the city of Detroit.
School staff noted that transportation is an obvious barrier to student success. They shared stories of how it impacts students beyond their journey to and from school but the stress it causes them throughout the school day.
The lack of reliable transportation for Detroit students is a barrier to their education. Issues with reliability, safety and efficiency all have detrimental effects, not only on students’ attendance but also on their educational opportunity.
Students from Cody High School shared their journey and experiences getting to and from school and then created and tested a student-centered bus experience using design thinking methods.
Granting students the time and space to design their own bus experience uncovered key themes. Keeping student stories and prototypes in mind these themes represent designable opportunities that would drastically change their lives.
The Success Express provides transportation for all k-12 students requiring them to walk less than .5 mile to the nearest stop and guaranteeing that they arrive at school safely. The route operates in a loop with several buses running continuously in the morning and afternoon, providing students several opportunities to board the bus.
Over the course of three months, we talked to our school administrators, teachers, parents and most importantly students to understand the complexity of the problem. We had a single question- what are the effects that a lack of safe, reliable and efficient student transportation system has on students?
Our findings point to the interlinking that exists between: a student arriving chronically late to school and a teacher’s ability to teach, a bus card representing the ability to get to school and at the same time making you a target for robbery, walking down a poorly lit street in the morning causing stress and anxiety throughout the day in anticipation of taking the same route home.
Unfortunately, in 2015 United Way clearly saw it's role in education but not how transportation was linked to it and the project wasn't able to move on to phase two which would have involved engaging more partners. We published our findings in hope that this idea might exist in Detroit some day.
In June 2018, the Detroit Free Press featured an almost identical youth transit loop being launched called GOAL Line.