Easton’s West Ward Neighborhood Partnership Adopt-a-Bus Stop Program
The West Ward Neighborhood in Easton has 12 bus stops along Northampton Street from 6th to 15th Streets. LANta intra-city buses run every half hour along the corridor. Bus riders who live, work or shop in the West Ward wait every 30 minutes at these bus stops. Bus stops such as these are important to the vitality of any neighborhood. When a bus stop is strewn with litter the entire block suffers. Litter breeds graffiti and vandalism, which lead to petty crime, illegal drug activity and eventually serious crimes.
Bus stops tend to have more litter than the rest of the street because there are so many people waiting at bus stops from dawn until late at night. That provides an opportunity to make a powerful change in the neighborhood by keeping the bus stops clean.
CAT-Coalition for Appropriate Transportation has run the Adopt-a-Bus Stop program in Bethlehem for 13 years. The most notable and largest example of the program’s success is the Broad & Guetter bus terminal in downtown Bethlehem, where 4,000 people enjoy safe, pleasant bus service every day. CAT supervises 5 volunteers who keep the terminal clean.
CAT also helps maintain safe surroundings at bus stops in South Bethlehem along the Route 412 corridor, at the Northampton Community College Fowler Education Center, the Banana Factory, the Post Office and Five Points in South Bethlehem as well as bus stops in downtown Bethlehem on the North Side, too. The West Ward Neighborhood Partnership entered into a contract with CAT to administer a similar program in Easton during July 2011 through June 2012.
Every Monday afternoon CAT Director, Steve Schmitt, spends two hours in the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership office at 668 Northampton Street and an hour inspecting the ten blocks of the Northampton Street corridor in the neighborhood between 6th and 15th Streets. He organizes and coordinates a neighborhood effort to pick up garbage, report problems like graffiti & vandalism and otherwise interact with bus riders to improve safety & the quality of life.
Surveys conducted before the bus stop cleaning started compared with surveys conducted in July of 2012 show the residents, store owners/managers and bus riders all thought the Northampton Street Corridor was cleaner and more pleasant.*
On Mondays, from 2-3PM, CAR-FREE.ORG Director, Steve Schmitt, interviews potential volunteers for the Easton Adopt-a-Bus Stop program. The interviews are in the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership office at 668 Northampton Street. Active volunteers also come by once a month to pick up their bus passes received for keeping their bus stops clean. Volunteers pick up litter at all the bus stops on Northampton Street from 6th to 15th Streets. On Mondays Steve conducts a sweep of the entire corridor from 6th to 15th Street to check on the program effectiveness.
The West Ward Neighborhood Partnership provides office space, a desk, phone and internet connection for Steve each Monday. Steve provides a lap top computer and maintains all records, such as receipts for individual bus passes, contact information for volunteers and other data. Steve orders all bus passes from LANta and any other supplies necessary to the program such as garbage bags, handi-wipes and surgical gloves.
Right now bus riders Anthony Wheeler and Angel Fimiano are taking care of the bus stops on both sides of Northampton Street at 6th Street; Jason Bolenek is watching over the stops at 7th and Northampton Streets; Mark Robinson is cleaning the stops at 9th & 11th Streets; while Dale Wieder is handling the stops at 13th and 15th. Some stops require more intensive care because they are much busier intersections.
As with most Adopt-a-Bus Stop efforts it took several months to identify suitable candidates for these positions. Twenty bus riders received bus passes along the way while helping with the program. The current set of workers has been in place for four months. These volunteers also report graffiti and vandalism or other problems to CAR-FREE.ORG Director, Steve Schmitt, so he can call the proper department to have things taken care of.
Receiving passes during the first year of the program:
- Carl Bellesfield – Bethlehem 2 ten-ride LANta passes
- Jason Bolenek* – Easton 4 monthly LANta bus passes & 5 ten-ride passes
- Anne Connors – Bethlehem
- Angel Fimiano* – Easton 7 monthly LANta bus passes & 2 ten-ride pass
- Robert Gibson* – Easton 6 monthly LANta bus passes
- Tonya Hinton* – Easton 1 monthly LANta bus pass
- Jeremy Hyman – Easton 2 ten-ride LANta pass
- Elaine & Zenobia James* – Easton 2 monthly LANta bus passes
- Dave Jago* – Easton 2 monthly LANta bus passes
- Dwayne Jago* – Easton 2 monthly LANta bus passes
- James Kinlaw* – Bethlehem 6 monthly LANta bus passes
- Franchesca Ortiz – Easton 1 LANta monthly bus pass, plus 3 ten-ride passes
- Laurie Rivera-Galletti – Easton 3 LANta 10-ride passes
- Mark Robinson* – Easton 7 monthly, 4 ten-ride LANta bus passes, Transit hoodie
- Samuel Sanders – Easton 1 ten-ride LANta bus pass
- Steve Schmitt* – Bethlehem 6 ten-ride bus passes
- Ron Teodoro* – Bethlehem 6 monthly LANta bus passes
- Larry Wheeler* – Easton 4 LANta monthly bus passes & 1 ten-ride pass
- Dale Wieder* – Bethlehem 4 monthly LANta bus passes, & 1 ten-ride pass
- Monique Williams* – Easton 1 monthly LANta bus pass
*currently active in the program
The Easton Adopt-a-Bus Stop program is funded in part by the Community Action Community of the Lehigh Valley through the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. Funding is also provided by members of CAT-Coalition for Appropriate Transportation. CAT has successfully applied for a grant from CACLV to extend the program into 2013 and to take on the transit corridor along Walnut and Washington/Lehigh Streets between 6th and 15th Streets.
Here is a story about the program from the Express-Times
Work Plan for Adopt-a Bus Stop Program
The purpose of the Adopt-a-Bus Stop program is to make it safer and more pleasant to use the bus in the Northampton Street corridor from 6th to 15th street. By cleaning the 20 bus stops in the corridor, the homes, businesses and people who live along the street also benefit. It is difficult to estimate the number of people who benefit from the improved environment along Northampton Street, but those who work, live or own property/businesses along the corridor number in the thousands.
In addition it is difficult to separate out the benefit of the CAT Adopt-a-bus Stop Program from the benefit created by the other West Ward Neighborhood Partnership Programs, such as the sidewalk paver and tree well programs. These two programs definitely improved the quality of life for everyone along the corridor also.
Outcome 1: Increased bus ridership
Surveys of bus riders show a significant increase in riders who report bus stops cleaner. 50 bus riders were asked before the project started and then six months later if they thought the bus stop where they waited for the bus was clean with the answers scored 1 point for Always, 2 points for Usually, 3 points for Sometimes and 4 points for Never. The average score before the Program started was 2.7. Six months later it was 1.7.
Bus riders were asked if they enjoyed their bus ride along Northampton Street with a multiple choice answer of 1. Always, 2. Usually, 3. Sometimes or 4. Never. The average answer at the beginning of 2012 was 2.3 when 50 bus riders were asked this question. In July of 2012 it was 1.9.
(Expected Outcome) LANta figures for boardings at 12 bus stops go up
LANta’s planning department provided figures for boardings at the 12 bus stops only for the first six months of 2012. The equipment to count boardings was not installed in 2011. The numbers provide a baseline for comparison in 2013.
(Expected Outcome) Annual ridership for Routes 220 & 106 increases
LANta’s planning department provided ridership figures for the two routes that service Northampton Street and the complete system. Ridership nearly doubled along the corridor during the first six months of 2012 compared with the first six months of 2011. This compares favorably with the over all increase in ridership system wide during the same time period which was about 20%.
Outcome 2: Increased property values in corridor
CAT surveyed 25 property and/or business owners before the project started and then again six months later.
Surveys of property/business owners show a significant increase in their perception of the street being clean. Asked if they thought the street outside their business was clean with the answers scored 1 point for Always, 2 points for Usually, 3 points for Sometimes and 4 points for Never. The average score before the Program started was 2.6. Six months later it was 1.4.
25 Property/business owners/managers were asked if they enjoyed owning property and/or running a business along Northampton Street with a multiple choice answer of 1. Always, 2. Usually, 3. Sometimes or 4. Never. The average answer at the beginning of 2012 was 1.7. In July of 2012 it was 1.6.
(Expected Outcome) Property sales improve (no data available)
(Expected Outcome) Property values increase (no data available)
A comparative study in housing values is not very helpful at this time as the housing market is stagnant. In addition, surveys of 100 residents living in the corridor showed they perceived the street to be cleaner but no increase in satisfaction levels at living in the corridor. The satisfaction level was already very high.
Outcome 3: Increased retail sales in corridor
(Expected Outcome) Retail sales (from state sales tax figures) go up
Statistics on retail sales are available only on an annual basis and not for nearly a year after the year ends. These numbers may be more helpful in the second year of the program.
Outcome 4: Decreased police calls in corridor
A. (Expected Outcome) Police report fewer problems in corridor
B. (Expected Outcome) Police calls in corridor decrease
Although crime statistics are not available for the corridor without expensive research a new study shows neighborhood clean-ups to dramatically decrease incidents of crime. Also, in an interview with the public liaison representing the Easton Police Department, he indicates violent crime statistics are down in the City and nationwide dramatically.
* The survey results showing a strong improvement in resident, bus rider, and business owner/manager perception of the neighborhood can not be credited solely to the Adopt-a-Bus Stop Program. The improvement is due in large part to other efforts of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership, too, especially the brick paver and tree well programs between 6th & 7th Streets. The sidewalk paver and tree well programs were specifically mentioned by many of those surveyed as making the street look cleaner. The Adopt-a-Bus Stop Program complements these other WWNP programs and the total impact of all these programs is very positive.
CAT conducted surveys along the Walnut Street transit corridor as a control group. These surveys did not show any significant improvement before and after the project. This transit corridor is being added to the Program this year.