This project is a way of improving the mobility in our school, especially of high school students, and a way of responding to major problems in our city: poor mobility as well as carbon dioxide emissions that affect our health.
The project came from our ecology class. The teacher asked us what we observed about mobility in our city: the good things, bad things, what was necessary to improve and what we would change. Then she asked what we observed about our school’s mobility and if we thought there was a problem. We answered “yes”. We realise that we did not care for that problem before and did nothing to solve it.
Not all of the students wanted to participate in a new project to improve our mobility, but many of us (10 out of 30 to be precise) did commit. Then we searched for help in other high school groups until we were 27 students and 4 teachers.
At the beginning we did not really know what to do. We decided to work with what already existed: Ciencias Route and TEN Transport. Neither of them worked well. Such as big school should have a good mobility system, because otherwise it becomes a big mess like the current one is. We gave ourselves homework: to think of new ideas. And we did.
We searched newspapers, internet pages and organisations’ platforms for information that could give us a broad overview of the situation in our city.
Big cities always have big transport mobility problems, and Guadalajara does too.
This is what we found in our investigations. The problem of mobility is one of the biggest since we are 4.4 million people in Guadalajara. There are 2.5 million cars in the city (according to SITEUR and COEPO). This means that there are more vehicles than trees in the metropolitan area. It also represents inconvenience, production of tonnes of carbon dioxide and the loss of many working hours that affect the local economy. 30 km per hour was the average speed in 1995, but now we have reached an average speed of 19 km per hour (less than the Mexican capital).
Then we went to the guard at the entrance to our school and asked him he could count the number of cars coming into the school. He decided to support us. After he gave us this information we gave it to the school committee because it was really interesting information that helped us to get our next data.
Only in Instituto de Ciencias we are 2,900 students that arrive at school in more than 1,300 cars. Students travel an average total of 8 km to arrive at the institute. Adding what every student travels in a school year, we would complete 156 circumnavigations of the globe, consume 46 tanks containing 20,000 litres of gasoline and spend 9.3 million Mexican pesos a year.
The information obtained was astounding; it was unbelievable that this number of cars represented only half of the total students in our school. This is why there is a need for immediate solutions that produce a solid change in the long term.
We realised that current solutions as TEN Transport and Ciencias Route were not working, but they were not bad ideas. What we had to do was promote them more. We also had to implement more solutions and ways of communication. And so we thought of Collective Spin, Group Trip and Ciencias Ride.
To create a solid project we had to make a good survey. We had made a start, but we needed to know the opinion of the students. To make possible this idea we made a questionnaire in a computer programme that all of the high school students had to answer. In this way we obtained the information in an organised way.
The questionnaire started with an explanation of our project. Then we asked how students transport themselves to and from the school. Afterwards we explained different mobility options and asked which of them they would use. Lastly we asked them to name the area their homes we located in.
We were surprised by the quantity of students that made group trips and were very glad to know almost everybody was disposed to use at least one of our mobility options.
If we did not want to fail, we had to start our project with a smaller sample group. We decided that we would work initially only with sixth semester students. Working with less people would make our task easier and working with these older students would give us better results, since a large proportion of them have their own cars. So then if the project did not work, the lower grade students who would stay at school for at least one more year would not have the bad experience of a failed project and we could continue working with new strategies and ameliorations.
We also decided to leave the Ciencias Ride for a while until the project was established. This option will be way that high school grades communicate with the rest of the school. It consists of having a card in each car with a colour and a number which correspond to a certain area. If you see a card that you know corresponds to an area near your home, you can ask for a ride. For protection, these cards will not have any insignia of the school so that the general public cannot know what they are for.
The research was complete and it was time to plan the project.
To support the project we decided to allocate one day on the subject of mobility in ‘Pro Ecology’ week. Pro Ecology week creates consciousness about our habits and the environment. We also informed how we can reduce our consumerism and decrease harm to ecosystems. The special day for mobility was planned for 20 February 2014. This day we gave a place to the parents in charge of TEN Transport, to promote it and to obtain relevant information from interested students.
On 8 April 2914 we fostered another day, Collective Spin. We gave away a Ciencias Route t-shirt to all the students who arrived at school by bicycle. There were almost 30 students.
Also, to foster more people to use one of the strategies, our ecology teacher gave us some homework: to film us implementing one of our mobility options.
And as last effort, we pasted some posters of mobility consciousness that we got from a national competition.
The project will continue after 30 April 2014, as there are lower-grade students who are still interested in it. It will be implemented from the beginning of the next academic year, but now in all the school as we realise it is worth it.
After our investigations, we came to a conclusion: the problem is the lack of ecological consciousness and poor communication between parents and between students.
There exists a committee at an institutional level consisting of figures of authority such as principals and teachers, as well as students’ parents from kindergarten to junior high school. High school students who are involved in the Ciencias Mobility project also have a place on this committee this year. This way, the section of the school where students have their own car, ride a bicycle or use public transport will be considered in the strategies for improving the mobility of school members.
We worked together with this committee, informing it of our progresses while we worked with project implementation in the high school.
On 6 March 2014 before implementing the project we had a meeting with the students that would guide the different meetings by area and the teachers who helped as support. The students explained how it would work and the things that were necessary (such as a laptop, a marker and a downloaded video). This meeting was a success because everybody understood what they had to do.
The next week, on 12 March 2014, the project began. The principal gave us permission to stop classes at 10:45; every sixth-semester student had to go to the classroom that corresponded to the area where they live. There was a list in each classroom that indicated the different area groups and the number of classrooms that corresponded to them. We tried to cover all the areas where the students live, but there were some where only one or two students live. Because of this, we asked a teacher, who was an expert on the metropolitan area to be in a classroom where all the students that did not know where to go could ask which group corresponded to him or her. And if there was no classroom allocated, they could stay with the teacher, listen to how the project would work and search for more ecological ways to transport themselves. There was no way to get lost.
The meetings began. There were little problems such as the audio and the lack of connections to project the video, but they were all solved. We had some classrooms with forty students and others with fifteen because of the different concentrations of students in the metropolitan area. We could not divide into smaller or bigger groups. In each classroom there was a minimum of one leader, sometimes up to three, with one teacher helping to organise and contribute ideas.
This is the information that was given to each classroom leader, and the way the meetings developed:
o Projection of the video ‘Buenos días’ (Good morning).
• Explanation of mobility alternatives
o Ciencias Route or Collective Spin: Ciencias Route consists of going to school by bike in the morning along a set route. There are different starting points which leave at 7:00, with the possibility to choose the closest. Collective Spin is an agreement with your neighbours to arrive at school by spinning together. It can be all days.
o Group Trip: To agree with your neighbours to attend school in a communal automobile.
o TEN Transport: A private bus hired by the school. You pay a monthly share to use it in the morning, at afternoon, or at both. There are different, specified pickup points. More can be added if the bus will pick up a minimum of required students.
• For Group Trip (write down names):
o Who is offering car
o Who needs a car
• For Ciencias Route or Collective Spin: Write down names and name a person in charge.
• For people interested in TEN Transport: Ask at the end to contact Claudia Castillo, the parent in charge of this mobility option.
• Name a person in charge that creates a group in either Whatsapp or Facebook, this improves communication between members of different areas.
• Make it clear that the project worked thanks to them and that their form of contribution is also possible because of their efforts.
Clearly, not all areas reached the objective; we cannot force anyone to participate. But the majority of the students could see who lives near them and agreed to travel to school together.