Students utilize bus transportation

Photo by: Aaron Gotter

Christopher McKagen, Staff Writer

The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority reported expected numbers of FMU student passengers on the Florence Transit System during the first two months of operation on campus.

Don Strickland, Transportation Manager for PDRTA, said that the number of students who have taken the buses is around the expected target.

“During the period between Aug. 22 and Oct. 10, we’ve had 2,072 FMU student passenger trips on the Florence Transit System routes 1 through 7,” Strickland said. “We’ve noticed a steady increase for each two week period.  I receive calls every day asking about the FMU service.”

A passenger trip constitutes a single trip on one route. If a student takes the Route 7 bus from FMU to the central transfer point and then switches to the Route 1 bus and gets off at Magnolia Mall, two passenger trips have taken place. A return trip on the same two buses adds two more passenger trips.

Strickland said that PDRTA is pleased with the amount of service coming from FMU but hopes for much bigger numbers in the future.

“We definitely want more,” Strickland said. “When you put a fixed route system in, it’s a growing process, and the more that ride, the more people will learn. We would love to see the numbers double or triple, and we feel that they will.”

Christopher “C.J.” Bell, senior mass communication major, lives on campus at FMU and has not yet ridden the transit system. Bell said that he likes the system being on campus but that having a car is the main reason he has not used a bus. He said that he might if the schedule changed or gas prices jumped.

“I think it’s a good thing we have the bus system on campus,” Bell said. “I see it often around the campus, and I don’t have friends that use it, but I see a good bit of people, mainly freshmen, that use it often. And if the bus possibly ran later I would use it or if gas had another dramatic increase.”

PDRTA is working to bring fresh aspects of the fixed transit system to FMU students in the near future.

Strickland said that four fixed bus stops on the FMU campus will soon have schedules in the schedule boxes that are already installed with the times that a bus will stop at that location.

New bus schedules that are printed on the reverse side of a map of the routes will soon be distributed and available on the PDRTA website.

Also, a new service on the PDRTA website that teams up with Google Transit will allow students to map out a trip to town and back before they ever leave their dorm room.

“We will have actually have Google Transit,” Strickland said.  “Students will be able to put in their starting point at FMU, and if they wanted to go to Wal-Mart on Irby, it will tell them exactly how to do it, what bus and time to get on and how to connect and the return trip. This should be on the website in the next two to three weeks.”

Students with a valid FMU ID can ride the PDRTA Florence Transit System for free. Route descriptions and times can be found on www.pdrta.org.

An information desk for the fixed transit system can be reached at (843) 665-2227.