Second grade students develop socially distanced transit of the future

Public transportation exists as a means to ensure everyone has an equal chance of getting to their destination. It’s about making connections. This has always been its purpose, no matter what transit has looked like in the past. But, what will public transportation look like in the future? This is the question Downtown Denver Expeditionary School second grade teachers Julia Behringer and Erica Vuolle posed to their classes. We participated through a Zoom interview on May 12 where we provided information on safety measures RTD is taking during the pandemic and answered their transit-related questions.

Their assignment was straightforward: Design a transit system for Denver that incorporates social distancing. Each transit system would be shared with the group. What resulted was nothing short of amazing.

Here are a few highlights:

Monopods

Imogene’s monopod system has individual pods that break apart to provide more distance between passengers. Families are in larger pods and smaller pods have no more than two passengers. The train cars connect at each station while the rear car disinfects the other cars.

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Monster Truck Bus

Eddie’s monster truck bus provides protection for the driver and seats passengers 6 feet away from each other. He envisions tracks all over Denver so passengers can go anywhere they want.

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Big Mac Truck Bus

Freddie’s socially distanced transit system involves an operator driving a Big Mac truck that tows passengers who each have a personalized compartment. It maximizes comfort, fresh air and safety. It also uses materials effectively and minimizes waste.

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Best Bus in the World

Oliver’s “Best Bus in the World” system emphasizes safety and keeps families together. Buses vary and hold no more than four passengers per room. Passengers can recline and take a nap.

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Teleporting Train Cars

Jaxson’s transit system is pollution free because it teleports train cars from one location to another. Each driver is protected behind glass. Cars are also cleaned by a Pikachu who appears after passengers deboard.

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Rail Bus

Anneliese’s six-passenger rail bus allows each passenger to ride in a cubby that is cleaned by the driver when they get off the vehicle. Because the rail bus is on tracks, it gets to places quickly. Best of all, the tickets are affordable for everyone.

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Pedal Bus

Finally, Amelia’s pollution-free pedal bus uses solar energy to power each vehicle. It has separate compartments for families and individuals, all of whom are required to wear face coverings. When a passenger gets off the bus, they press a button that emits a pleasant-smelling cleaning mist that cleans the compartment.

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Each presentation ended with accolades from students and teachers on what they liked about the transit system, so it is befitting that we end the blog the same way. 

We were deeply impressed with the creativity and caliber of the systems designed by the students. They incorporated RTD’s values of safety above all, making connections, equity, sustainability and an enjoyable trip for passengers while also incorporating ongoing cleaning and social distancing. We enjoyed the uniqueness of each idea and the willingness to help ensure everyone can get where they need to go safely during a pandemic (and beyond). 

It is our professional opinion that these kids will go far in life … and, hopefully, they will take a transit system they designed along the way!