By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Oxford-University Transit has made a lot of fans since its inception nearly three years ago, but changing buses has been one of a few rough spots.
Since the system’s start, passengers have changed between the Red and Blue routes – the major north-south and east-west circuits – on the Square.
“Trucks come through, and it’s pretty tight,” said system manager Ron Biggs. “Some of the citizens really don’t like the buses sitting up on the Square with their engines running for several minutes during the transfers.”
Plans are to move the Red-Blue transfer point from the Square to the Old Armory, the system’s current shop and office facility, where the two routes also overlap. Biggs said the building would provide shelter and restrooms – something the Square can’t offer when the Lafayette County Courthouse and Oxford City Hall are closed.
“Once 5 o’clock hits, there are not restrooms available on the Square. At this location, both the drivers and the public can have access to restrooms,” he said. “We don’t have a definite date for the change, but I’d like to have it prepared by the fall semester – early August.”
Despite the Square’s drawbacks, University of Mississippi student Jeremy Vick said it is a natural destination for riders.
“I think they need to leave it where it is,” he said.
The “OUT” buses also have a transfer point at the Ole Miss Student Union, where Green, Yellow and Orange Routes, which mainly serve off-campus student-dominated apartments, overlap. That transfer will not be affected by the proposed change. Coincidentally, though, five new passenger shelters are planned for campus stops, along with 10 for city stops, this summer.
A new transit headquarters will be built on McElroy Drive. Much of the needed funding is already in place, but aldermen are expected next week to approve applying for another $250,000 grant to augment the existing federal and state monies.
Ground may be broken for the new OUT headquarters before year’s end, but it will not affect plans for the Old Armory transfer.
“The city owns this building, so we’re looking into this being the transfer point long-term,” Biggs said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.