STARKVILLE, Miss.--More than $2 million in federal grant funds has been announced today [Oct. 2] by Mississippi State to support an integrated transit system connecting the university campus and City of Starkville.
Distributed through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the grant includes more than $800,000 for transit operations and approximately $1.5 million for the purchase of up to 12 buses.
The announcement was made by MSU President Mark E. Keenum, Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Marvel Howard.
"This convenient, timely transit operation between key areas of campus and the city will meet an ever-growing need for improved public transportation in our community and definitely enhance the quality of life for students and Starkville residents," Keenum said.
Labeled "Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit" or SMART, the new public system will include three scheduled routes: city-campus, city circular and Sportsplex connectors. Routes will include retail and grocery stores, housing and other city venues, with most stops having fixed shelters. Also, riders will be able to track movement of the shuttles with real time GPS information available through www.transit.msstate.edu.
Offered free to all riders during its first year, the new public system will reduce traffic congestion both on campus and in the city, while also reducing carbon emissions that harm the environment.
Mike Harris, MSU's parking and transit services director, said of the grant award, "In connecting our campus and community, we all win. Having a reliable and sustainable way for students and Starkville residents to visit health centers, retail outlets, and recreational facilities is a major step in overall growth of our community."
Harris also commented that the decrease in the use of single occupancy vehicles not only reduces the carbon footprint, but lowers infrastructure costs. Previously, the university had operated two "flag and ride" routes with no set schedule.
Along with MDOT, the City of Starkville, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Greater Starkville Development Partnership will be involved with implementing the system.