Miami Metro to burst 'Oxford bubble'
Miami University students who take the red and white Miami Metro buses are in for some change. Beginning next year, on-campus transportation will be taken over by Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) and will transport students and community members alike.
There will no longer be the color routes on the red and white buses to which students are accustomed. Instead, there will be both Oxford area routes and regional routes on BCRTA's buses.
Currently, the university has a contract with a private transportation company, First Transit. According to Lieutenant Ben Spilman of the Miami University Police Department (MUPD), the change is to ensure that more people use the buses and students have a chance to travel between cities of Butler County.
"[BCRTA is] going to better gage the size of vehicles needed to operate these routes so that we have added capacity without empty vehicles as much," Spilman said.
Spilman said the new system will be publically accessible, so people not affiliated with Miami can pay the customary fare of two dollars. Meanwhile, Miami students, staff and faculty ride for free by presenting their Miami IDs on campus, between campuses and on regional routes.
Kate Rousmaniere, professor of educational leadership at Miami and Oxford City Council member, said she is excited about the partnership with BCRTA, particularly because it will decrease traffic and parking congestion and allow students and community members to ride together.
"There's a lot of Oxford that students don't see," Rousmaniere said. "I think public transportation would allow students to see some of the greater aspects of Oxford that they don't normally see, like the city pool and community park."
Senior Cole Tyman, secretary for on-campus affairs for Associated Student Government (ASG), said he believes regional transportation is one of the greatest benefits of the new system, as students without cars generally have no way to get around.
"We have the stigma of the 'Oxford bubble,' and it's good to give students a chance to get out of here and breathe different air for a little while," Tyman said.
Junior Maddy Broda said she uses the Miami Metro frequently and has mixed feelings about the new system.
"I think that changing it to public transportation takes away from the purpose to serve the student use," Broda said. "A really big plus is that mostly students use it, so I feel like students are more comfortable."
However, she said she believes expanded transportation around the county and Oxford will be an improvement. Broda said one of the most frequent questions she gets as a campus tour guide is about transportation to Walmart and out of Oxford.
"I think that there are students that take classes at Hamilton and Middletown campuses, and with gas prices rising they will use opportunity to take transportation to and from," Broda said. "And even just to get out of Oxford maybe on the weekends, I can see students utilizing the new system."
Spilman clarified that some routes will be longer than others and some will remain short loops.
"There's not just one vehicle on the route necessarily," Spilman said. "There may be multiple vehicles on a route moving at the same time. BCRTA uses GPS technology, and I expect that they will be rolling out some sort of application that will allow riders to track when the next bus will be arriving."
Broda said she uses the current Miami Metro application, and would definitely use any offered by BCRTA.
The greatest change for students will be learning the new routes, according to Tyman, who said he wants to make sure the new routes are still efficient for them.
"Sometimes you have to go all the way to Kroger when you get on a bus just to go to your next class," Tyman said. "I want to make sure the bus routes are reasonable and beneficial to students."
According to Spilman, current Miami Metro bus drivers work for First Transit, the private company Miami partners with now. However, as they are all local residents, they will be the largest applicant pool for the new system, which will require several new vehicles and drivers.
Spilman said the new routes will begin at the start of next semester. More information about the new system and routes can be found at www.MiamiOH.edu/Parking/
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