Thanks to the support of Student Affairs, the Graduate School, Academic Affairs, the Saint Joseph Transit and many others, off-campus public transportation after day classes is now a reality.
Starting Fall of 2015, all Missouri Western students had access to free bus transportation throughout the day.
As of Feb. 1, the decision was made to keep one more bus on duty for the students taking night classes. Many students, especially international students living off campus, will find that this change will improve their daily lives.
Shana Meyer, vice president for student affairs, said the continuation of this amenity depends on if students actually take advantage of it.
“This year’s actually a pilot program that Student Government entered into with the St. Joseph Transit,” Meyer said. “This year is free, so we don’t pay anything for the basic service that the transit is providing. We do need to meet a baseline number this year.”
Meyer believes the program is a win-win situation for both the students and St.Joseph Transit.
“We have always looked at transit options for students,” Meyer said. “The transit system came to us essentially with an offer we couldn’t refuse. It is no risk to us. If we don’t have the number of riders that have to be met, we don’t have to continue on with the program.”
Ida Haefner, president of the Student Government Association, believes the program will succeed.
“This is a trial run for this semester,” Haefner said. “It also depends on if we meet the maximum ridership level of 9,500 riders. If not, then we are not locked into a contract to continue the bus route service. I think we will meet this; we were at 7,000 riders at the end of last semester.”
Previously the lack of evening transportation was a safety hazard for many students trying to get home.
“Classes do not let out until 9:15 p.m.,” Meyer said. “It’s dark and there is no sidewalk. Students would walk in clusters on the shoulders of the road trying to get home. It is a safety issue.”
“This provides an opportunity for students who don’t have a vehicle to get around the town of St. Joe. I’m glad we are able to provide this service to students,” Meyer said.
The evening bus will pick students up at Popplewell Hall and take them to Chatham Apartments; that extra little bit will provide an additional ride per night, Monday through Thursday. The cost would be $3,000 per semester.
Though it was originally intended for the international students that live in nearby apartments, it is for all faculty, staff and students.
All students already pay a fee from which this program would be funded. It provides an option to everyone; a van or other transportation would not. A van also creates liability issues and driver issues for the university.
There are 36 new international students this semester, and that number is expected to rise. Free transportation will make Missouri Western more appealing to those who are not able to live on campus.
International students Kia Abhari and Violetta Valeeva are very grateful for this new opportunity. They both live in apartments and are taking night classes here at Missouri Western. They would either have to get a ride from other classmates or walk.
“During the summer, we were walking here every day. We have only two choices: live on campus or live off campus,” Abhari said. “We took it once. It was really good.”
Another advantage is that there will be no additional cost to any student. Even next year, when there is a fee for the service, it will be covered by SGA.