OUT passes 100,000 monthly riders

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Ridership on Oxford-University Transit (OUT) passed the 100,000 mark for the first time last month, eclipsing the previous monthly high by more than 17 percent.

“We had 100,492 passengers for the month, which is a record for us since the beginning of transit,” said OUT Manager Ron Biggs at the system’s board meeting on Wednesday.

The September figure reflected recent-year trends in which the vast majority of riders were University of Mississippi faculty, staff or students – 96 percent last month. The university, which is trying to balance increased enrollment with decreased on-campus parking, provides funds for several routes aimed at getting student commuters to and from the campus.

One of the growing pains for the system has been staying on schedule with its campus-focused routes.

“We get a lot of calls in regard to ‘Where’s the bus? The bus is late,” Biggs said. “We have a lot of trouble getting through campus in 10 minutes during class-change time.”

University attorney Donna Gurley asked, “Is there a (University Police Department) officer out at the Union?”

Biggs replied, “The bus will get behind by 10 to 15 minutes at that particular spot. There is an officer there sometimes, but it doesn’t seem to help much.”

Several upcoming construction projects will temporarily detour some bus routes on campus, including the construction of a parking garage and new coliseum and the expansion of the Ole Miss Student Union next year.

“There are continual changes and issues happening,” said Isaac Astill, UM’s director of parking and transportation.

Several students in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting said they are pleased with the transit service.

“It’s much better than last year,” one offered.

Gurley, noting the popularity of OUT buses among students, said, “We’ve grown a lot faster than we ever thought we would, and with that come some growing pains.”

errol.castens@journalinc.com