The Oxford-University Transit system, while operating under encouraging demographic conditions, has made good on its opportunities of serving a heavily populated part of Oxford and surrounding Lafayette County with affordable fares, good schedules and reliable service.
It attracts University of Mississippi students, commuters riding from their homes on the outskirts to drop-off points near their in-town workplaces, and residents who find the bus service more convenient than wrestling with Oxford’s formidable issues finding parking in the heart of downtown.
O-U Transit has been so successful and prospects so strong that it is planning to add buses to its fleet, which could lead to more frequent trips, routes and stops.
The ridership has averaged about 500 people per day, which is well more than 150,000 per year.
The fare structure, set by its oversight committee, is reasonable and generous:
• Adults: $1
• Elderly: 50 cents (65 with proof of age)
• Disabled: 50 cents (with OUT disability card)
• Students: (K-12) 75 cents (with school ID)
• Paratransit: $2 (with OUT disability card)
• Children (under 38 inches, height of farebox): free (with fare-paying adult)
• Ole Miss students or faculty: no charge with Ole Miss ID
• Transfers: free
• Monthly passes: adults, $30
The governing commission makes recommendations to the city of Oxford on major capital equipment purchases, informs the public, Oxford and the University of Mississippi on transit matters, supervises/reviews monthly reports from the transit management company and monitors transit system performance through ridership surveys and other appropriate methods.
“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.
Given the growth projections foor apartment residences in the area most heavily served by OUT, it seems likely ridership will grow and, reasonably, more expansion in equipment and service will be required.
As Tupelo seeks to find a successful formula for a bus system, the Oxford model is instructive. The city and the university have taken significant population assets and density and made reliable, sustained service possible. Similar factors will be needed for a similar system.