Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Durham’s Big Surprise For First Year University Students

Several years ago, when I was with DCVB, we worked through Dr. Mitch Javidi at NANOPHRADES and Dr. Larry Moneta VP of Student Affairs to conduct a series of focus groups with Duke First Year Students (appears freshmen is no longer PC.)Interactive Connector Map

The feedback helped pinpoint sources of many misimpressions or misinformation and most importantly unwrap what would help first year students experience more of Durham during their brief four-year tenure (and hopefully longer if Durham continues to “brain-gain”.)

I’ll never forget how one group indicated that the biggest problem they had with getting out and doing more in the community is that everything seemed like a “silo”, e.g. Duke, Downtown, Northgate, Southpoint, RTP etc.

Sometimes they weren’t even sure what locations were in Durham vs. surrounding communities.

Remember, students aren’t permitted to have cars during their first year and they must live on campus, specifically, Duke East Campus, one of three arching around Downtown.

Results from that experience tell me that one of the greatest gifts for the new class of 2014 which just settling in today, will be the Bull City Connector. Everyone, including students, can just hop on or off one of the BCC coaches fare-free, every 15 minutes M-F from 7 am to 6 p.m., then every 20 minutes from 6 p.m. to Midnight. Saturday and Sunday, the buses run 7 a.m. to Midnight, every 20 minutes.

First year students will have easy access now to eight different dining, entertainment and shopping districts (click on the image above to open the interactive map) including the two that bracket the campus - Ninth Street District and Brightleaf District, not to mention the majority of Durham’s nationally recognized festivals and more than a dozen performing arts and sports venues.

Students from North Carolina Central University connect fare-free via a bus route from that campus to the Durham Transportation Center.

No more silos! Welcome to Durham – Where Great Things Happen!


Unknown said...

It seems that the inclusion of students from North Carolina Central University was added as an afterthought, as usual.

Reyn said...

I can see how it may seem that way to you. But folks worked very hard to include a direct stop at NCCU. When NCCU, understandably, couldn't contribute at this time to make that happen, an alternative was deployed. Hopefully, in time, NCCU can make that happen, as Duke did.

Rob Gillespie said...

Reyn is right. Duke stepped forth with a total of more than $1 million over two years to provide matching funds for the buses ($350k), and two years of service (at about $350k each year).

I've heard that to add NCCU to the route, it would have taken at two additional buses. This would have been another $150k for equipment, and another $150k a year or so for operations. The city doesn't have these funds, and NCCU did not step forward with them. That is why Route 5 was changed to have a more direct connection to the BCC.