In 2019 alone, the Federal Transit Administration received nearly $2 billion worth of project proposals - well over the group’s yearly budget. These proposals illustrate the growing demand for public transit reforms across the country. MS is receiving $11 million from the federal grant to improve public transportation throughout the state. Adult learners, along with all MS commuters, stand to benefit greatly from this investment. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the exciting upgrades you can expect as well as some current commuting solutions to hold you over until these proposals are completed.
Breathing new life into the MS bus system
The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) received $5.68 million from the grant to revamp its bus system and expand services, especially in rural parts of the state. With over 50% of Mississippians living in these rural areas, improved connectivity will make it easier for those students committed to improving their lives but struggling to find access to an affordable way to get to college. If all goes according to plan, MS commuters will see more routes, extended and further-reaching lines, along with newer, cleaner buses.
Further bus system reform in Jackson
That is not to say that more urban areas are not also challenged and in need of better transportation options. In addition to the statewide public transportation reforms, there are major changes occurring on a local level in Jackson. At the beginning of this year, $21 million were invested to reform the city’s bus system. Commuters throughout the city can expect to see the construction of new bus stop shelters, the addition of more bus routes, and even the implementation of Jackson’s first bike-sharing program. Overall, the goals are to make MS public transportation more efficient, comfortable, and safe. Students in Jackson and the surrounding metropolitan area should expect to see these changes rolled out over the next 3 years.
How college students are impacted
As one of the main groups relying on MS public transit, college students gain a lot from these improvements. For example, one of the proposed changes to Jackson’s bus network is a direct connection between downtown and Jackson State. More bus routes in Jackson and throughout the state will make it easier for anyone looking to attend college to get to campus and complete their degree. And hats off to Ole Miss and MSU - both of these schools have taken the initiative and purchased several mid-sized buses with plans to start transportation services early this year. They are following the lead of schools like Hinds CC, our state’s largest community college, that has been offering transportation for students commuting from Jackson and many other nearby areas for several years already.
More good news after graduation
For those looking ahead to better employment, there are two areas of particular interest in MDOT’s upcoming changes. A key focus of the transit expansion will be increasing access to jobs and healthcare. This is great news for any graduating student who may also be looking for affordable public transit for work and other activities after graduation.
The current state of college commuting
Bike-Sharing and Rental Programs – We previewed the ride-sharing program coming to Jackson but the bike-sharing craze has already made its way to several cities and colleges throughout Mississippi. Ole Miss, MSU, and USM are just a few major colleges that offer bike-sharing services - and some are even free! This way, you can get all of the benefits of cycling to class without needing your own bike. These bike-sharing initiatives provide for commuting options that are not only affordable but also sustainable.
Carpooling and Car-Sharing - With thousands (or tens-of-thousands) of students commuting to your college, there’s bound to be a fellow student or staff member living near your place. CarPoolWorld, ShareYourRide, and RideBuzz are three helpful sites for finding a ride. In terms of car-sharing services, ZipCar and Enterprise CarShare currently work with Ole Miss and MSU, respectively, to allow staff and students to rent cars by the hour or day.
Making the most of a college commute
Unless you’re lucky enough to live near campus, a college commute is likely to take up a sizable portion of your day. Instead of letting this time slip by, there are some creative ways to take advantage of it.
Studying: Whether a student needs to do some last-minute studying before an exam or wants to get a head start on classwork on the way home, commuting can be used as a perfect block of time to knock out some course-related work.
Taking care of smaller tasks: Adult learners are especially busy during the day due to their responsibilities at work, home, and school. Commuting time is a great chance to get a head start on some daily to-do’s, such as phone calls and emails.
Getting some exercise: Staying active has tremendous benefits for students. Those who struggle to find the motivation or time to hit the gym throughout their busy week can kill two birds with one stone by cycling to and from school.
Let C2C put you in the driver’s seat
While commuting can get you to and from campus, a college degree can transport you to new heights in your professional life. Whether you’re looking for a promotion or want to blaze a new career path, Mississippi’s Complete 2 Compete program can give you the resources you need to finish your degree. Participants will receive support from a C2C Coach throughout the process in addition to financial support.
Connect with a C2C representative today to see how close you already are to graduation.