Strategy. Partnership. Communication.
I have buses on my mind – lots and lots of school buses sitting in parking lots all over the world. In the United States about 480,000 yellow school buses take kids to and from school, and on fields trips. And are then parked.
What I have come to like about buses is that they are a form of sharing. Whether in public or private use, buses embody the notion of a shared need – a common route. They are thus aggregators, of commuters or students, or in innovative settings much more. But in aggregating, they also preserve an individuals particular need.
Verizon, for example, now uses buses to deploy technicians in New York City, in addition to individual trucks and vans. The buses are packed with equipment, some mobile and some fixed, and drop technical staff where they are needed to address customer problems and then pick them up when they are done. Saves a lot of time (looking for parking spaces, fuel, vehicle maintenance and so forth). In retrospect, seems like a no-brainer.
In the national capitol region around Washington, DC, another bus has been repurposed as a green market. Run by Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, it also follows a set route but this repurposed bus collects fresh produce and meats from area farmers and delivers them to underserved neighborhoods. Customers can use government SNAP, WIC, and SFMNP funds to buy healthy, local, fresh food. Another no-brainer, in hindsight.
As I head to the CERES conference “Igniting Innovation, Scaling Sustainability”, I wonder how we can more effectively use such underutilized assets: school buses that spend more than half their useful lives parked, offices that are empty for as many hours as they are occupied, and school kitchens and lunch rooms deserted after students go home.