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CUTR Student’s Project Recognized in the Sarasota Herald Tribune

As part of a University of South Florida (USF) graduate course in sustainability and urban development, students analyzed environmental, economic, and social equity issues faced by the Newtown neighborhood located in Sarasota, Florida.  Sarasota city administrators allocated $11.4 million to fund a redevelopment plan for the neighborhood, which would address issues such as economic development, transportation, housing, land use, community health, safety, and welfare. City administrators asked the USF students to develop a variety of projects that would help solve these issues.

CUTR graduate student Christopher Cochran’s project focused on improving transportation in Newtown by analyzing and mapping bus stop conditions in the neighborhood. Mr. Cochran’s final project was well received by Sarasota city administrators and was recognized in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Bus Stop Inventory

Building on a project he participated in at CUTR, Mr. Cochran used the Easter Seals Project Action Bus Stop Checklist to develop a bus stop inventory for Newtown.  The bus stop checklist evaluated the following issues: wheelchair accessibility, lighting, shelters, benches, signage, and safety conditions such as crosswalks and traffic flow.

Data Collection

To collect the bus stop inventory data, Mr. Cochran visited the residential areas of Newtown two times over a three-week period to record bus stop conditions and GPS points for each bus stop, tying the observational data with the geographic location of the bus stop. A Microsoft Access database was developed to collect, maintain, and analyze the 32 residential bus stops.

Data Analysis

Wheelchair Accessibility:

–26 of the 32 bus stops had uneven/grass landings that pose potential hazards to wheelchair riders.

–13 of the 32 bus stops had obstacles located in the landing area that have the potential to limit the mobility of the wheelchair.

–Five of the 32 bus stops did not have an accessible ramp to the landing pad.

Sidewalk Conditions:

–Six of the 32 stops had “poor” or “hazardous” sidewalks conditions at or approaching the bus stop, which could limit wheelchair mobility to and from the bus stop.

Lighting:

–22 of the 32 bus stops did not have lighting at the bus stop site.

Bench Conditions:

–Five of the 32 bus stops had benches; of the five, two had “poor” or “hazardous” conditions associated with them.

Safety Conditions (Far-Side Intersections):

–Two of the 32 bus stops have “far side” intersection stop sites, which can expose the exiting rider to danger if they cross in front of the bus.

Bus Stop Inventory Maps

Based on the data, Mr. Cochran developed an overview map of all the bus stops in the residential section of Newtown, created five maps highlighting the primary problems faced by the individual bus stop sites, and provided a map highlighting his recommendations for a new bus route and bus stop shelter. Please click on the below links to view the maps.

Overview Map

Wheelchair Ramp Accessibility

Sidewalk Conditions

Lighting

Bench Conditions

Safety Conditions (Far Side Intersections)

Observations and Recommendations

Conclusions

Based on the problems highlighted by Mr. Cochran’s bus stop inventory project, Sarasota city administrators now have the ability to quickly address significant problems at bus stops in high ridership areas. In addition, the redevelopment plan funds can be allocated to those areas that need it most and upgrading the bus stops will improve the appearance and safety of the neighborhood, increasing the overall livability of the community.

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