Ferris to provide busing

Ferris, Dial-A-Ride partner on fixed bus route during university construction

Ferris State University has teamed up with Dial-A-Ride transportation (DART) to provide free busing to students during the campus renovations for the next three semesters.

The university decided to provide transportation to help students get around the “disrupted or displaced” campus due to the recent construction, according to Ferris Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprise Jim Hessler.

Starting Aug. 26, students can take advantage of the shuttle. The route begins at FLITE, goes to the West Side Café, down to the bookstore (near Save-A-Lot) and back. Hours of operation will be 10:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday from 10:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

One bus will be in constant transit. During lunch time and on Friday, two buses will be in route. If the university decides it needs to add or remove buses, the system is flexible.

Students will have an estimated wait time of five to seven minutes while two buses are running and six to 12 minutes while one bus is running.

Hessler said DART was chosen as a partner because “Dial-A-Ride transportation is a functioning bus system that is reasonable and already active.”

A contract to finalize the DART partnership was signed July 15 and approved by the city commission and mayor, explained DART Supervisor Dawn Fuller. DART has hired two new bus drivers to operate the new route.

The busing system will cost Ferris approximately $40,000 per semester.

Fuller said the new system is made simpler through technology.

“A web map website has been created so that students can see exactly where the bus is, to the spot, and decide if they should wait for the bus or not,” she said.

A downloadable phone application is also in the works.

The university, DART and city officials will discuss future plans after gaining experience with this new system.

“The ultimate goal is to have a connection anywhere in town at any time,” Steve Sobers, Big Rapids city manager, said.

Creating a fixed route which connects to the regular bus route has been been in talks for the future, Sobers added. Although this partnership is geared toward Ferris students, anyone can use the shuttle system. Dial-A-Ride transportation, by law, is required to be community wide.

Through the partnership between the university and DART, students are given the opportunity to easily get around campus for free, despite the ongoing construction.