Raider Xpress to gain three more buses
The Raider Xpress is due to receive three new buses in the coming weeks, which will be added to the current fleet to accommodate the growing demand for transportation services.
The new buses will be larger and will aim to help to alleviate the strain of over-crowding, particularly along the red and silver routes.
One bus will follow the silver route, and the other two will follow the red route because those are the busiest, according to Ron Malone, assistant vice president for events and transportation.
The new buses will cost approximately $85,000 each.
“The funds come from a combination of student program services fees, faculty/staff vehicle registration fees, shuttle bus rental fees, and vehicle fines,” Malone said.
One bus arrived Sept. 28, but dates for the final two were not confirmed, according to Malone.
The red and silver routes serve a number of off-campus apartments, meaning commute times on those routes could be shortened.
“I love living in my off-campus apartment, but getting to class can be a bit of a pain,” said Chris Ciccarelli, junior. “Finding a parking spot is a difficult task, and usually it’s pretty far from wherever I need to go. The Raider Xpress is already a big help to me and I think that the new buses will definitely improve my situation.”
Malone said the buses were ordered in February and were anticipated to arrive for the beginning of the fall semester, but met a holdup.
“Production time always varies due to parts availability and that sort of thing,” Malone said. “The bid that was submitted specifically required delivery at the beginning of the fall term. There has been some sort of delay in production, though.”
Murfreesboro-based manufacturer Midsouth Bus Center won the bid to construct the buses.
Demands for greater bus service have increased as student population has grown, Malone said, adding that the Raider Xpress currently averages 5,500 riders per day.
“The buses that shuttle me between the parking lot across from Greek Row and campus are a big help,” said Jimmy Carlson, a regular of the Raider Xpress red route and a junior majoring in computer science. “The only thing about it is that it’s always very crowded. I’m excited to learn that we will be getting larger buses.”
Malone said the campus has maintained a bus system for almost 16 years, but with large gains in student population in recent years, officials have struggled to keep pace with transportation.
Three buses previously served the red route, with one additional bus added during peak hours, while the silver route ran just two, Malone wrote in an April email to Sidelines.
Michael Melton, a bus driver on the blue route, had been hearing for a while about the reports of new buses.
“We need more buses,” Melton said. “The campus is growing and we have to meet the demand for the sake of the students.”