An Old Main Express Trolley is part of the transportation fleet that makes up the Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit, also known as S.M.A.R.T. system. S.M.A.R.T. is being recognized as Transportation System of the Year by the Mississippi Public Transit Association. (Photo by Russ Houston)
The Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit — also known as S.M.A.R.T. — is being recognized as Transportation System of the Year by the Mississippi Public Transit Association.
The state award cites the S.M.A.R.T. system for excellence and “for your efforts in working with local officials in removing isolation barriers to education, employment, medical and recreational services by providing safe, affordable and accessible mobility options for residents in your service area.”
S.M.A.R.T. is a free community bus transit system connecting the Mississippi State campus with Starkville’s residential and commercial hubs. A Mississippi Department of Transportation grant enabled the university to partner with the local community and expand the traditional campus shuttle system to include new campus-community routes.
VP for Campus Services Amy Tuck said since the system launched in January 2014, officials have made adjustments and expansions to best serve the university and local community.
“This recognition is very gratifying to all who have been a part of taking a very good system and continuously looking for ways to improve our services,” Tuck said.
Jeremiah Dumas, MSU director of parking, transit and sustainability, said the S.M.A.R.T. system had its one-millionth rider in July 2015. He said 25% of those who utilize the system are based in the community, with the most riders on campus utilizing the Greek route. The central route is the second busiest.
Beginning Jan. 4, 2016, a new route from Starkville to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport will be added.
Dumas emphasized that the S.M.A.R.T. buses operate year-round and are only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many MSU students and local residents rely on the transportation to get to critical destinations, like work, grocery stores and health care, he said.
“When you see the reliance on the S.M.A.R.T. system and know that we’re impacting people’s quality of life in the community, that’s when you know you’re making a difference,” Dumas said.