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Safe Ride to kick off Jan. 21

Students who overindulge will have a free option to get back to campus starting next week when the Oxford-University Transit’s new Safe Ride route kicks off on Jan. 21.

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

Rob Biggs, OUT manager, said he recently met with the chiefs of the Oxford Police Department and University of Mississippi Police Department to discuss jurisdictions.

“We talked about if something were to happen on the bus, which department should be contacted and the correct way to do that,” Biggs told the OUT board of commissioners Wednesday during their regular meeting at City Hall.

Commission member Carol Haney asked if OUT would be advertising at all about the new Safe Ride route. Along with the information being on the OUT website, Commissioner Mike Harris, who is also head of parking and transportation for University of Mississippi, said he assumes students will be doing some type of advertising.

“I expect they’ll be taking the lead and getting the word out,” Harris said.

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. The Board of Aldermen approved taking over the route in December.

Blaire McElroy from the UM Office of Global Engagement asked the commission to consider sending the Safe Route to University Trails apartments on Old Taylor Road since most of the school’s International students are housed there and do not have vehicles.

“I don’t think we can do that,” Harris said. “I think it’s a great idea, but with only a week before launch, there’s a lot of red tape to go through to change the route.”

Costs

The price tag 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.

Also on Wednesday, Biggs announced the regular OUT route schedules would resume on Jan. 19.