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Ferris to Provide Busing

Ferris, Dial-A-Ride partner on fixed bus route during university construction

by Published: Aug 26, 2013

Ferris State University has teamed up with Dial-A-Ride trans­porta­tion (DART) to pro­vide free bus­ing to stu­dents dur­ing the cam­pus ren­o­va­tions for the next three semesters.

The uni­ver­sity decided to pro­vide trans­porta­tion to help stu­dents get around the “dis­rupted or dis­placed” cam­pus due to the recent con­struc­tion, accord­ing to Ferris Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprise Jim Hessler.

Starting Aug. 26, stu­dents can take advan­tage of the shut­tle. The route begins at FLITE, goes to the West Side Café, down to the book­store (near Save-A-Lot) and back. Hours of oper­a­tion will be 10:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday from 10:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

One bus will be in con­stant tran­sit. During lunch time and on Friday, two buses will be in route. If the uni­ver­sity decides it needs to add or remove buses, the sys­tem is flexible.

Students will have an esti­mated wait time of five to seven min­utes while two buses are run­ning and six to 12 min­utes while one bus is running.

Hessler said DART was cho­sen as a part­ner because “Dial-A-Ride trans­porta­tion is a func­tion­ing bus sys­tem that is rea­son­able and already active.”

A con­tract to final­ize the DART part­ner­ship was signed July 15 and approved by the city com­mis­sion and mayor, explained DART Supervisor Dawn Fuller. DART has hired two new bus dri­vers to oper­ate the new route.

The bus­ing sys­tem will cost Ferris approx­i­mately $40,000 per semester.

Fuller said the new sys­tem is made sim­pler through technology.

“A web map web­site has been cre­ated so that stu­dents can see exactly where the bus is, to the spot, and decide if they should wait for the bus or not,” she said.

A down­load­able phone appli­ca­tion is also in the works.

The uni­ver­sity, DART and city offi­cials will dis­cuss future plans after gain­ing expe­ri­ence with this new system.

“The ulti­mate goal is to have a con­nec­tion any­where in town at any time,” Steve Sobers, Big Rapids city man­ager, said.

Creating a fixed route which con­nects to the reg­u­lar bus route has been been in talks for the future, Sobers added. Although this part­ner­ship is geared toward Ferris stu­dents, any­one can use the shut­tle sys­tem. Dial-A-Ride trans­porta­tion, by law, is required to be com­mu­nity wide.

Through the part­ner­ship between the uni­ver­sity and DART, stu­dents are given the oppor­tu­nity to eas­ily get around cam­pus for free, despite the ongo­ing construction.