O-U Transit to expand

OXFORD – Bus service will be extended to a whole new set of Oxford-area riders on Jan. 5.
The Oxford-University Transit Commission this week approved three new routes to add to its original two. The service began in October 2008 and had attracted a ridership averaging more than 500 riders per day by the end of its first year.
A fare structure enacted this month, with a top ticket of $1, cut ridership only slightly.
“We’re still averaging 400 to 500 riders a day since we started charging, so that may be down 100 riders a day,” said system manager Ron Biggs. “Those that really depend on public transit to get where they’re going – whether it be to school, work, Walmart, whatever – they’re continuing to ride.”
Oxford-University Transit monthly passes are $30 for the general public, $25 for school and community college students and $15 for people over 62 or with disabilities. The University of Mississippi encourages its students, staff and faculty members to ride by offering them fares at no charge when they present a university ID.
While the first two Oxford-University Transit routes begin and end on the downtown Square, two of the new routes will transfer at the University of Mississippi Student Union.
The Yellow Route will loop through campus and will serve several student-dominated apartment complexes on Hathorn Road, Anderson Road and Jackson Avenue.
The Green Route will make a similar on-campus loop before going down Old Taylor Road. It will be the first OUT circuit to halve the 30-minute service intervals on other routes. Given that campus parking is a constant source of frustration for commuting students, Biggs anticipates enthusiastic usage.
“Old Taylor Road is highly concentrated with student-populated residences,” Biggs said. “Especially with the 15-minute intervals, we’re looking for a pretty high ridership there.”
The Orange Route will primarily serve Thacker Heights, the Galleria Shopping Center and The Links apartment complex in west Oxford, connecting with the east-west Blue Route at Walmart.
Oxford City Planner Tim Akers, one of the system’s earliest proponents, was elated to have the expansion officially adopted.
“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to serve the rest of the city,” he said. “This will take in a lot of student residences, especially, and will give much better transit coverage.”
Other transportation experts have taken notice of OUT’s success. Last week in Meridian, Oxford-University Transit was presented the top award by the Mississippi Public Transit Association.
“That’s something we’re really proud of,” Biggs said.

Errol Castens