Traveling to Grand Rapids may become easier—and cheaper—due to a shuttle bus service currently being proposed by Ferris State.
The service would likely include a small fleet of passenger buses escorting students, faculty and city residents several times daily throughout the week between the campus of Ferris State in Big Rapids and key locations in Grand Rapids.
Still in the earliest stages of development, there is no certainty on when or by what means this service may be introduced.
“The University is only in a preliminary planning and exploration phase,” said Sandy Gholston, Ferris State marketing specialist. “Real discussion on this is just beginning in earnest.”
Research on the concept has begun by a small committee chaired by Mike Hughes, which also includes Jennifer Amlotte, Shelly Armstrong, Warren Hills, Jon Shaffer and Troy Tissue. This group recently began distributing surveys that explore the issue to students and staff.
“I took the bus survey,” said Jason Boer, a Ferris student from the Grand Rapids area. “I said I would possibly use it; depends on the cost.”
Despite positive feedback from most students, there are concerns over the price of such a project, namely how it would be funded. This comes at a time when students are concerned over state funding cuts and possible increases in tuition.
Such a service could possibly charge a riding fare, which would be small in comparison to the price of gasoline used for such a trip.
As it is, many Ferris State students take the hour-long trek to Grand Rapids throughout the week to experience the many things the larger city has to offer, such as dining, shopping and, of course, the nightlife.
“I think people would take advantage of that because there’s nothing here,” said junior Brianna Rogers, a health care administration major at Ferris State. “From a girl’s point of view, there’s no real place to shop.”
Many students, staff and faculty also commute from Grand Rapids or surrounding locations on weekdays.
With gasoline prices rising, and focus on energy conservation increasing, it seems appropriate Ferris would explore this possibility at this time.
“My daughter’s boyfriend is from Grand Rapids,” said math education major Shandra Leach. “It would save me a lot in gas. I go down there at least twice a month.”
The concept is not new. Oklahoma State University has its signature Big Orange Bus, or BOB for short. BOB is a shuttle service between OSU’s campuses in Stillwater and Tulsa. The buses make nine trips daily from each campus Monday through Thursday, and seven trips daily on Friday. It charges a small fee, and is available to OSU students, faculty and community members.
Grand Valley State University has a similar transit system in operation as well. With five different routes, students and faculty from Grand Valley can travel to different campuses and other key locations in and around Grand Rapids with relative ease and for no cost. Expenses are covered through University funding.
“Certainly this is a project worth considering. This could be a way for students and others to transform that commuting time into productive time while also helping to conserve energy,” said Gholston. n