Recent changes in one of Oxford’s public transportation systems could help keep it running for years to come.
The system, named the Oxford-University Transit System, serves students at the University of Mississippi and Oxford residents by offering low-cost public transportation.
The system drew concern from some in local government due to its dwindling ridership. Many were concerned about whether the system could sustain itself much longer.
An expansion of the system seems to have helped these concerns. Jack Howard, chairman of the OUT commission, says that the addition of new routes targeting off-campus students helps to increase usage of the system.
“We’ve targeted the expansion to off-campus student housing for Ole Miss,” said Howard.
Howard also noted that since the system was implemented in January, the system has seen a significant increase in ridership.
“We’ve enjoyed the ridership increase that we projected and wanted to see,” Howard said.
Howard also hopes that the expansion will encourage students to use the system to get around Oxford. He noted that routes going to and from Anderson Road, Old Taylor Road and Wal-Mart.
Shannon Richardson, OUT Commission board member, says that any additional routes will largely depend on funding and must consider not just the students of Ole Miss.
“It is a federally funded program,” Richardson said. “We have to look at the entire Oxford population, not just the university since it is a partnership.”
Ole Miss Students are currently allowed to ride the OUT buses free of charge, provided they display their student ID cards. Some have concerns that charges may be incurred on them if the OUT commission should decide to raise bus fares.
Andrew Scott, a senior journalism major, says that he hopes that the commission will keep the students in mind when making any changes to the system.
“I think that it will work as long as it’s an affordable price for students and if OUT does its research and finds a way to market a new system,” Scott said.
With an increase in ridership comes a need for more room to fit the added passengers. Howard says that the commission hopes to add newer, larger buses to the system in order to better serve the larger routes.
“The increased sizes of the buses are for future growth of those routes, particularly,” Howard said. “We’ll put the larger passenger buses on the routes that need them.”
More information on the Oxford-University Transit system can be found at www.oxfordms.net.