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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Boost in bus use - Cold weather, limited parking, gas prices, increased enrollment all factors in rising popularity of bus use, on and off campus

by Paulette Kimber
Issue date: 3/27/08 Section: Campus News

Cold weather, wet snow and snowflakes that seem to last forever are hardly ideal traveling conditions. This may be why more and more students prefer to ride the bus to campus. To free up parking spaces and provide students without cars a means to get to campus, Minnesota State operates several buses and shuttle services. Route 1 services MSU campus buildings, parking lots and nearby apartment complexes while route 8 is the on-campus circulator.

"We don't pay for route six, it just lands here," said David Cowan, Parking Advisory committee Chairperson.

According to Cowan, routes 1 and 8 have increased by about 4,000 rides. Actual cost per ride is about $0.91, but cost to students is $0.50 per ride. That number is obtained by taking $126,000 - the budget for routes 1 and 8 - and dividing it by 138,000 rides - the combined totals of 2006 to '07 fall and spring ridership.

"We count the ride, not the human being," Cowan said. "Every human being would probably be two rides per day."

He added that extra money needed comes out of the parking fund. He said this actually helps parking because if people were not able to ride the bus, they would have to drive to get to campus, causing a larger strain on the parking situation. As it is, there are only about 5,400 parking spots available on campus.

"Without this bus, you would have a tough time finding a parking spot," Cowan said.

He explained that night time services such as the Red Eye shuttle and the Maverick Shuttle -which are also paid for with parking funds other than those for routes 1 and 8 - must be included.

"I think [the bus system] is very effective," said foreman Mark Anderson.

According to Anderson, the mid-semester review for total passenger increase revealed boosts of about 8 percent for route 1 and about 40 percent on route 8.

"I think it's a cooperative effort from the city of Mankato [and the university]," Anderson said.

According to Rolland Rowe, director of Institutional Research, MSU's fall population in 2007 was 14,515, an increase of about 10 percent from fall 2006. This unforeseen boost in enrollment may be a key factor in the increase of students using the bus service.

Senior law enforcement major Mohamed Ghedi said he likes riding the bus because it's available for students and the price is affordable. Ghedi has purchased two bus passes from the university and said the bus is his main source of transportation to campus.

"Sometimes they're too early and sometimes they're too late," Ghedi said, of his biggest complaint with the service.

Another student added she prefers the bus over driving because she'd rather not deal with finding a parking spot.

With Davenport's plan of increasing enrollment combined with the opening of the Julia A. Sears Residence Hall and rising gas prices, less students may opt to drive, meaning this could be the beginning of rising bus popularity both on and off campus.

Paulette Kimber is a Reporter staff writer