By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Oxford-University Transit is a step closer to having a permanent headquarters.
The city Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved advertising for bids on the long-awaited structure to be built on McElroy Drive, next to the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society.
The building will house both offices and maintenance facilities for the transit system, which is a joint venture between the University of Mississippi and the city of Oxford.
Architect Tom Howorth told aldermen that approval from the state Department of Transportation, which is required because of the state funding, is expected to be granted readily.
“We’re asking permission to go ahead and bid, anticipating that we’ll get green-lighted from MDOT,” he said. “We don’t want the city’s permission to be holding us up if we get approval from the state.”
Oxford-University Transit is currently headquartered at the Old Armory building on University Avenue, where passengers transfer between some of the routes. Mayor Pat Patterson has expressed hope that when the new bus facility is built, the armory can be remodeled as a headquarters for some of the city’s nonprofit agencies.
Aldermen also voted to purchase two used 40-passenger, low-floor buses to add to the system. OUT began in 2008 and has been expanded several times since. The university offers free passes to its students, faculty and staff, and its leaders have credited the service with easing parking and traffic problems on campus.
When the university is in session, OUT manager Ron Biggs said, “Those student routes are always packed.”