There is no debate: traffic in Boone is bad. If you live off campus, good luck trying to make it to class on time during rush hour.
Other than being every off-campus student’s nightmare, traffic also impacts the environment. According to the Office of Sustainability, students contribute to 40% of App State’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that there is a public transportation option available to students. Student demand for public transportation has increased by 19%, according to the 2020 AppalCart financial report. To match this demand, AppalCart hopes to add 10 buses to the Blue and Express routes over a five-year period, starting in 2021. Should this policy go into effect and consumer demand keeps pace with growth, emissions should decrease in proportion to the students using AppalCart.
However, this policy would require additional funding because AppalCart is funded by the state with supplements from the university. The report stated that additional funding is unlikely and that $25.4 million is needed between 2020 and 2030.
Despite needing more funding, expanding the scope of AppalCart will positively impact the community economically and environmentally. AppalCart would like to construct a new transit center on Rivers Street costing $13.5 million.
There still are short-term economic benefits despite contractors outsourcing labor. Local proprietors will benefit from workers needing housing and local businesses benefit from these workers purchasing goods and services. Furthermore, new buses means permanent jobs. According to AppalCart’s website, workers can earn between $10 and $15 an hour.
According to the U.S. Census, 21.2% of Wataugans live in poverty, despite unemployment being only 2.7%. North Carolina’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, meaning that for someone working 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, would earn $13,270.40 post tax. This is only $510 above poverty. However, workers will earn between $18,304 to $27,456 on an AppalCart salary.
AppalCart is an essential piece of Boone’s infrastructure. It provides a free service to locals and students alike, helps reduce emissions and traffic and provides livable wages for workers.Thus, AppalCart expanding its reach will benefit Watauga as a whole.