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City to provide late night bus to campus beginning in January

The Oxford Board of Aldermen put its stamp of approval on a new late-night bus that will take students from the Square back to campus on the weekends.

Mayor Pat Patterson presented the idea to the Oxford Transit Commission as a way to cut down on the number of students walking back to campus or even driving  back while intoxicated.

A student-led organization, Students for Safe Ride, were operating a bus on busy weekends like home football games; however, city and university officials felt a regular route with a solid financial backing would help increase ridership and regularity for the route.

Last week, the Oxford Transit Commission approved taking over the late-night route and on Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen voted to amend the city’s transit budget by $22,125 to help pay for the route through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The new route has been dubbed the Safe Ride Route in honor of the students who worked hard to provide a safe ride to their peers after Rebel Ride shut down a few years ago.

The student organization will still help with fundraising to help pay for the route and educational programs on the dangers of drinking and driving or overdrinking.

The route will run from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays and 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

Tim Akers with McDonald Transit, which manages the OUT system, told the board the route will begin on Jan. 28, the first full weekend after students return to class from winter break. The route will not run during the summer months or winter break.

The cost for the route will be about $30,000 a year and the city and university would share the cost until October.

After Oct. 1, the route, if approved, would fall under the Mississippi Department of Transportation grant given each year to run the OUT system which pays for 80 percent of operational costs. The city and university would then split the 20 percent matching share.

A security guard will be on the late-night bus each night.