Wheels on the bus to connect USM, Hub City

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Southern Miss students, staff and faculty will be able to hop a Hub City Transit on campus and ride all over Hattiesburg for free after an agreement between the City of Hattiesburg and USM was announced earlier this week.

The 1-mile Gold Route that runs the perimeter of the campus will feature two 22-passenger buses that will require only a 15- to 20-minute wait between stops. The USM route will connect with the city’s Green Route along Hardy and West Fourth streets beginning July 2 on weekdays.

USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett said he was excited to see the step made in the school’s transit system.

“Our institutional goal has been to continue our footprint and our westward expansion toward 38th Avenue,” he said. “There are incredible parking lots out there, but the issue was how do we get students from those outer lots into the core of campus. This partnership with the city, this partnership with our Student Government Association and obviously with our university administration really brings that idea to fruition. I am so excited about that, and I look forward to growing the transit system from the two buses we have now to whatever the students say they need in order to accomplish their academic goals.”

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said one of the city’s objectives is “to grow and cultivate the next generation of Hattiesburg citizens.”

“When we consider the thousands of students who arrive in Hattiesburg each year to attend Southern Miss, establishing and strengthening the bond between new students and our community is an opportunity and must be a priority,” he said during the Monday morning news conference. “These two objectives, including our strengths and cultivating the next generation, led us to one of our goals for 2018. That goal was to update our Hub City Transit routes, and within that to establish exclusive routes around the University of Southern Mississippi. Hattiesburg has so much to offer, and there is so much for students in the quality of life that is to be had in our city. Beyond that, there are basic needs for students who lack transportation, especially international students.”

Barker said the city will be rolling out updated routes around the city in the next few weeks.

Ward 1 Alderman Jeffrey George, whose ward includes Southern Miss, said the Gold Route provides a connection to two other routes that run through Ward 1 and head out across the city.

“These routes give all users of the Hub City Transit system the opportunity to more efficiently move around the city and provide the Southern Miss community the opportunity to travel outside the boundaries of campus, just like other colleges campuses do in cities like ours,” he said. “Without a doubt, this is a major step forward in solidifying Hattiesburg’s position as Mississippi’s premier college town.”