Transportation option created between campus and downtown

Melissa Rollins, Staff Writer

Students at FMU received a new, cheaper option for transportation to campus and   places around the city of Florence on Monday, Aug. 22.

Officials at FMU have worked with the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA) for the last year to provide a public transportation bus route to students at the university.

With the new Performing Arts Center completed, school officials wanted a way for students to get to events and classes held there, even if they do not have their own vehicle.

Route 7 is a fixed bus route that loops from the school to where the Performing Arts Center is located. Along the way there are stops at grocery stores, the Department of Motor Vehicles, local restaurants and McLeod Hospital.

Vice President of Public and Community Affairs Darryl Bridges said this route is not the school’s first attempt to offer public transportation to students. There was a short lived bus route on campus 13 years ago, but it did not last because of the lack of interest.

PDRTA, with the help of FMU’s administration, conducted a survey last semester to ask students if they would be interested in having a bus route on campus again.

“The survey did indicate that there was a high level of interest in ridership among the student body,” Bridges said. “Quite a few of the students would be interested in accessing the service if it were available.”

Bridges also said that students would save money when they rode the bus system, especially those who lived off-campus.

“FMU students, when showing a current FMU ID, will not be charged a fare to ride the service,” he said.

Route 7 is not the only route that students can ride. They can also ride all the Florence area routes. FMU students can take the Route 7 bus to the central transfer point and take another bus to other locations. The bus service is paid for by FMU and the city of Florence. FMU’s cost is $40,000 and the city’s cost is $20,000.

There are multiple stops on the campus with pick-up times from 7:25 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The stops are indicated by a bus stop sign similar to those around Florence.

Students can find the stops near Cauthen Educational Media Center, Leatherman Science Facility, the Fine Arts Center and the Forest Villas Apartment Complex.

Bridges said that this route coming to FMU shows how much the school is dedicated to its students.

“Francis Marion is committed to providing the services our students need to be successful,” Bridges said. “We felt that this was an important step for us to take, and this service is one that our students will benefit from greatly.”

Route 7 is not strictly for students. All members of the community can ride the route for the regular fare rate of $1.50 plus 75 cents for any transfers.

The route offers a cost-effective way for both students and the public to reach the FMU campus for events, plays and open houses offered throughout the year.