By NATHAN GREGORY
Mississippi State University students will have a more affordable and hassle-free option for getting to class once the semester starts on Aug. 20.
MSU Parking Services Director Mike Harris says the university is implementing a park-and-ride option for students starting this fall. The option cuts the $115 fee for a commuter parking sticker in half while alleviating campus parking issues. All students have to do is pick one of two “plex” areas where it’s most convenient for them to park and catch an MSU shuttle bus which will take them to the center of the campus.
“There are two different park and ride areas. One of them is where you can buy a half-price permit and park and then we’ll shuttle you in. That will be located at our Scales lot in our RecPlex area which is on the east side of the Wise Center. That one is a half-price permit which gives a little cheaper permit choice,” Harris said. “The other one is on Lynn Lane in the Sportsplex area. You can park there free of charge and we will transport you to and from that parking lot.”
Harris said the routes will run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and are designed to mitigate campus traffic and parking problems for students. The routes have no in-between stops and are specifically devoted to carrying students to and from campus, he said.
“What we’re hoping to do is to help alleviate some of the congestion on the streets and the roads and also to alleviate some of the frustration with parking on campus. It’s another way to park and get to campus without having to deal with all of that,” Harris said. “On a shuttle bus we can carry 35 to 40 people. That’s 35 or 40 vehicles you don’t have coming to campus, and that’s just in one bus. You can imagine how many we can carry throughout the day. It would certainly help with campus situation and congestion on the street, not to mention the sustainability aspect of it. Every car not running is less carbon in the air. We want to try to do some things that can help with the sustainability effort we’re trying to do here at the university as well.”
Harris said the university and city are also anticipating an announcement next month from the Mississippi Department of Transportation on an grant application which, if approved, would provide funds to add three more routes connecting the city and campus.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved applying for the public transit grant in February. If the application is approved, MDOT would provide an 80-percent match of funds needed to purchase shuttle shelters and buses. The program would be named the Starkville/MSU Area Rapid Transit.
“Everything looks very promising so far,” Harris said. “We can’t say 100 percent yes or no at this point, but we did have a really successful grant application and so far everything is looking good. It’s looking very positive.”