Campus introduces bus service

Brittney Cottingham

Sophomore Adrian Hurst boards the Mustangs Shuttle after a day of classes on Monday. As a Caribbean student from Antigue, Hurst said without the Mustangs Route he would have to walk in the heat to and from class. (Photo by Hannah Hofmann)

After seven years in development, a free bus service called the Mustangs Route is available to students and faculty with a valid MSU ID Monday through Friday from 7:15 am to 9 p.m.

The route is replacing the MSU shuttle system that the university ran themselves.

MSU spent about $60,000 a year for a shuttle system. Now, this dedicated bus route will cost the university less than $34,000 a year.

“We’re saving a significant amount of money by doing the (Mustangs Route) service and it expands our service too because now student, faculty and staff can access the whole public transit system for free with their MSU ID.” said Keith Lamb, associate vice president for student affairs.

Mustangs Route makes stops available down Louis J. Rodriguez, Comanche and on Taft in front of D.L Ligon Coliseum.

The route also stops at Colony Park Apartments, Heritage Church and LaDonna Place Apartments.

“Public transportation is a very big part of almost all larger colleges and universities,” said Dennis Burket, Wichita Falls transit administrator. “Since Falls Ride has the expertise and equipment to move students to and from campus, it made sense to offer our services to Midwestern.”

There are two parts to this partnership Midwestern has with the City of Wichita Falls.

Not only can students, staff and faculty ride the Mustang Route for free but also all bus routes.

As the city’s public transportation system, our job is to move people throughout the city safe and efficiently,” Burket said. “We can offer the students access to all areas of the city without the need for a personal vehicle.”

Administrators first introduced this idea to the city years ago but at that time couldn’t make it work. According to Lamb, this deal really came together over the spring.

While the shuttle system was in action, MSU took accurate count of how many people rode the shuttle that was presented to the City of Wichita Falls.

“We finally had the population that would allow appropriate reimbursement to the city through the Federal Transit Administration,” Lamb said.

According to Burket, the Wichita Falls transit average around 350,000 passenger trips per year, and hope to add another 200,000 trips with the addition of the Mustangs Route.

Kennisha John, MSU employee, from Dominica, called the Mustangs Route a big improvement from the former shuttle system.

John lives in Colony Park, which is one of the main spots on the new  route.

“I think it’s important for international students to have transportation because most don’t have vehicles of their own and we need to get around if we have internships to do or even go to the mall so it’s helpful,” John said.

On the first day of classes, Lamb took the 16-minute loop himself and even with the 9 am traffic, he described the experience as very urban, clean, comfortable and cool.

“It is very, very important that as a public institution, we are partners in different levels with the city. We participate in community service with the city and we are good neighbors. I think (the Mustangs Route) is a good and positive step in university and community relations,” Lamb said.

The Mustangs Route’s first pick-up is at 7:15 a.m. at Colony Park Apartments and every 15 minutes, until 10 a.m. The schedule then shifts to every 20 minutes per round, until 9 p.m.