O-U Transit plans upgrade

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Oxford-University Transit will add six buses and extend at least two routes in time for the influx of passengers that will come with the fall semester.

System Manager Ron Biggs said told Transit Commission members on Wednesday that the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has approved the acquisition of six new 35-passenger buses with a state-federal grant.

“We’re trying to get the buses at least by July. It takes five months, so I’ve got to build a little fire under MDOT,” Biggs said.

The new buses will allow OUT to retire some older vehicles completely and allow more flexibility in scheduling multiple buses during peak hours of use.

“We’re going to replace a couple of the buses we got from Charlotte,” Biggs said. “Their useful life is up, and we’ve spent quite a bit of money on them.”

Commission members approved a preliminary budget for the system of $2,563,038 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 2014.

The projected figures have the city paying 36 percent, or $372,445, of the local costs for operating expenses, capital outlay and administration. City Planner Tim Akers said the figure includes some $95,000 divided between McDonald Transit, which oversees operations for the system, and NextBus, which provides web-based scheduling and route information.

The University of Mississippi, whose students, staff and faculty constitute the vast majority of OUT passengers, will pay $661,246, or 64 percent, of the local costs.

The FY 2014-15 budget will include a local share of funding for two new 18-passenger buses, to extend the Green Route farther down Old Taylor Road and to extend Orange Route operation by one hour in the evening.

Federally funded transportation grants are expected to continue paying 80 percent of most costs on the system, which has been in operation since 2008.

errol.castens@journalinc.com