Changes to OUT bus system shorten routes to campus

Posted on Jan 31 2017 - 11:40am by Xinyi Song and Marlee Crawford

Special to The DM 

The new Oxford-University Transit bus routes put in place the first week of January have changed the bus flow, and other improvements are on the way.

Mike Harris, the director of the department of parking and transportation, said the buses are running about five minutes quicker than they were previously.

Kennon Observatory Bus Hub on Monday. Photo by Xinyi Song

A bus picks up students at the Kennon Observatory hub Monday. (Photo by Xinyi Song)

“It’s running so much better,” Harris said. “The students that are riding it have communicated to the drivers that they like it so much better because they get to the buses quicker. They get to campus quicker.”

The buses are now only entering campus to drop off at the Kennon Observatory hub and the Union hub, avoiding on-campus traffic that was slowing them down previously.

The problem, according to Harris, was that buses were circling around campus where the flow of both car traffic and pedestrians delayed buses throughout the day, pushing arrival times further apart.

He said the transportation office wanted to solve the problem by redesigning those routes to make them the most efficient and direct.

In fall 2017, four more buses will be added to the campus for interior routes. Two will constantly run clockwise, while the other two will run counterclockwise around the campus.

Harris said the goal is to also have a bus stop within four minutes of anywhere on campus.

In addition, the yellow line was separated into the yellow line and the yellow express this semester to make for faster routes.

The yellow express line goes to Campus Creek, Campus Walk and the Kennon Observatory hub. The yellow line is a direct route from Anderson Road to campus.

Sophomore electrical engineering major Cody McBride lives at Lafayette Place and rides the yellow line to campus.

“I think it is shorter in getting me to class. I’m glad they cut off Campus Creek and Campus Walk [stops],” he said. “It only takes me about five minutes to get [to campus].”

Sophomore chemical engineering major Lila Burton lives at Campus Creek and rides the bus every day to campus.

“I like [the new bus changes], because I only ever go to the observatory bus stop,” she said. “Now there are two yellow buses, so it is convenient to get a bus that will take me home.”

These changes were going to be put in place permanently in fall 2017, but due to the closure of All American Drive, the decision was made to start the new system this semester.

Harris said the department attempted to get ahead of the game by putting out signs at all bus stops on closures and reroutes last semester in order to prepare students.

Each hub, at Kennon Observatory and the Union, can only run certain lines.

Junior accounting major Siqi Chen said not having a bus stop at Lamar Hall is inconvenient because it is a long walk to the Observatory hub.

Yellow express line bus driver Tanya White said the additional buses and routes will allow better access for all students on campus to ride.

In addition to route changes, all stops will include a bench, shelter, LED signs for incoming bus times, bike racks and a garbage can, Harris said.

The OUT buses are a third party contracted system by McDonald Transit in which the City of Oxford and the university split the cost along with federal grant money available helping to operate it.

There are 26 buses and about 13 lines currently which the university pays for solely on the income from parking permits and citations.

For the 2016-2017 school year, the university’s cost was $3.3 million to run the bus system. This will increase next year with the new buses and routes added.

There is a website and an app called NextBus that allows people to see real-time bus tracking.

This article was a special to The Daily Mississippian from an advanced reporting class.