MNTRC Newsletter Vol 19, Issue 2: Fall 2012

UNLV hosts transportation summer camp

Hualiang (Harry) Teng, PhD, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Students riding a bus with Dr. Zongzhong Tian from the University of Nevada, Reno.

High school students test the limits of public transit at UNLV transportation summer camp.

UNLV News – Dr. Zongzhong Tian from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) led a Transportation Summer Camp, which had activities in Reno and Las Vegas. Dr. Harry Teng assisted with activities in Las Vegas. The summer camp, designed for high school students, ran from July 9-19, 2012.

A bus-riding competition was held in Reno. Each student received a bus map, schedule, and pass. Starting from the Main Street Station, a team of four students took and transferred buses until they returned to the starting point. Each student was given three hours to travel as far as possible in the Reno-Sparks region.

Careful planning needed

Given this time constraint, the teams were to develop their own strategies. For example, students could take fewer but longer routes, while others might use shorter, but quicker routes. While creating these travel plans, teams had to minimize waiting-times during bus transfers. After plans were established, the teams implemented them in the field. With distances measured from the Main Street Station, and locations logged through photos, the first-place team accumulated over 35 miles, proving the efficiency and convenience of the Reno-Sparks public transit system.

Students riding a bus with Dr. Zongzhong Tian from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Students gather near Reno’s Main St. terminal before teams competed to see how far they could travel by bus in 3 hours.

While in Las Vegas, the students were given a presentation by Mr. David Swallow about the public transportation system, RTC Transit. This is operated by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada. RTC Transit consists of various public transportation modes, including regular buses, rapid transit buses, and paratransit. RTC’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system is one of the best in the nation. In the field, the students learned how the BRT system runs, as well as the technologies that make buses move efficiently through the system.

Site tours boost understanding

The students also toured a state-of-the-art transit terminal, Bonneville Transit Center, designed to complement the redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown Las Vegas area. From these activities, the students understood how important public transportation is to a society. Even the parents commented that it was the first time they had understood how the transportation systems worked, including public transit. The camp was so successful that transportation summer camps likely will be continued, giving more focus on public transportation.