Mercer University Bear Bus almost ready to roll out
The new Mercer University shuttle bus is almost ready for its debut, that is according to Macon Transit Authority’s CEO and General Manager Rick Jones.
“We wanted to design something that the students could recognize as a part of Mercer,” Jones said. “We challenged the Mercer students, they took it to their art design folks [and] they came up with a look they wanted the bus to look like.”
Jones says Mercer is paying MTA nearly $70,000 a year for the shuttle service. The Mercer University Bear shuttle bus is free for students. The public can also pay to ride the “Bear Bus” at a cost of $1.25 per person.
The MTA Mercer Bear Bus shuttle schedule is Wednesday-Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday the bus goes to Zebulon Drive until 11 p.m.
The bus runs every half hour Thursday-Saturday, from 7 p.m. until 2:30 a.m.
Jones says they agreed to take over the university’s shuttle service. The Mercer University Bear Bus is replacing NewTown Macon’s trolly service.
NewTown Macon President, Josh Rogers, says the trollies were too costly to maintain.
“The trollies that we’re using to provide the service are more than 15-years-old. Their design life is only seven years,” explained Rogers. “So the equipment was just having a hard time keeping up with dependable service.”
He added the new Mercer University Bear Bus can carry up to twice as many passengers. The bus has 35 seats and can hold an additional 35 passengers standing. The shuttle trolly only has 20 seats and can hold up to an additional 20 people standing.
“Mercer is growing so quickly, MTA has the ability to grow and meet those needs with Mercer. So, I think it’s a perfect match,” continued Rogers.
The Vice-President of Mercer’s Student Government Association, Victoria Conley, says students wanted a few changes, such as adding an additional route. The bus will take students from Mercer’s campus to downtown Macon and a new route, which includes shopping areas along Zebulon Road.
“We changed them from going to Kroger on Pio Nono over to Zebulon that was the thing that we really took on initiative that we changed. So students could see another side of Macon,” she said.
Students say using the shuttle service is not only convenient, but it’s also safer.
“It also eliminates a lot of potential risk such as drunk driving because the shuttle bus runs until 3 a.m., you don’t have to worry about how to get back,” says Mercer University student Oscar Martinez, “Plus it’s safer than walking from downtown. It’s nice that the school provides a means of transit, when we want to go downtown.”
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