Aggie, Ingeniero November 2010

aggie_transitIndustrial engineers look to improve RoadRUNNER Transit and Aggie Transit Bus Systems

Industrial engineering assistant professor Hansuk Sohn decided that he might be able to improve the efficiency of the city’s bus transit system, RoadRUNNER Transit, when he realized he would have to commute a mile from his home to the nearest bus stop, take two separate buses and arrive to work on campus an hour later.

“I live in the Highway 70 area, about ten miles away from the university,” Sohn said, “One bus  trip takes about an hour, but if I drive it takes less then 30 minutes, so why bother?”

Sohn recognized he wasn’t the only resident with this dilemma.

“In the last five years Dona Aña County, especially the city, has been growing and expanding a lot. As a result we have new residential areas like the Highway 70 area and Sonoma Ranch area,” Sohn said.  “I’ve been thinking its about time to expand the current RoadRUNNER transit system.  I’m an industrial engineer and unlike many other engineers, industrial engineers are mainly involved in system improvement or system optimization.”

Sohn, along with a group of engineering students, have begun researching the current RoadRUNNER Transit networking system, communicating with city officials, producing and distributing surveys, collecting ridership data, and drafting possible solutions to help both RoadRUNNER Transit and Aggie Transit systems run more efficiently and provide better service to more residents and students.

“We want to improve the quality of the service and the efficiency of the service of the public transportation delivery by redesigning or expanding the transit system, so that way we can increase the ridership and minimize total transportation cost,” Sohn said.

After studying the current bus transit networks and routes, Sohn recognized the lack of coverage of student-populated residential areas as well as other populated areas within the city and near campus.

“If we do have a route in these student populated areas, ridership would be high,” Sohn said.

Haytham Alodan, an industrial engineering graduate student also feels this way. “I prefer to park my car in a free parking area and get in the bus that will take me anywhere I want on campus. For students who don’t have cars, the city buses will help them get anywhere in Las Cruces as well,” he said.

The project is in its early stages of data collecting. Students have derived several surveys and collected ridership information from the previous spring semester. Already, the group has found some very interesting information concerning the campus Aggie transit system: the peak demand of use of the Aggie Transit system does not reach the maximum capacity of the smaller buses that are used on routes.

“The buses used were large-capacity buses, meanwhile, the yearly utilization of buses did not exceed 16 percent of the capacity of the buses,” Daniel Agyenim-Boateng and German Reyes, industrial engineering graduate students, reported.

“There is a positive relationship between fuel consumption and the size of the vehicles. Simple decision: Aggie Transit should use the smaller buses and that would save around $30,000 annually,” Sohn said.

The group plans to conduct more data gathering, on campus and city wide, to get the most accurate information possible. Once data is collected and analyzed, the group will present its findings and possible solutions to city officials.

“All of this will be done in close collaboration with the city. I am anticipating a strong bond and partnerships between New Mexico State University and the city of Las Cruces. Such a partnership will benefit the university’s outreach effort and public service mission,” Sohn said.

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