As of now, SMART, Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit, campus bus routes run Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to the SMART website, and they vary in size and location, such as Central, Greek, Research and Wise. These bus routes are extremely beneficial, as they are a reliable source of transportation for students who need assistance in getting to and from campus, to class and to other off campus academic sites. With these bus routes' importance for students, their weekly hours should extend for at least another hour.
Extending the bus hours by another hour or so would be more convenient, considering more and more students are taking later classes. There are several varieties of classes which are being held at MSU after 6 p.m., like labs, study sessions and supplemental instruction meetings. On top of conflicting with students' class schedules, the bus routes need to be able to accommodate campus events, organization meetings and many other academic and recreational reasons for needing transportation to and from campus after 6 p.m.
Additionally, more of our students are staying at off-campus apartments instead of residential halls. According to professor Robert Kelchen, as reported by Josh Moody of U.S. News, more students live off-campus than in university housing. With this being said, many of our campus bus routes provide transportation to and from their apartments, and this greatly impacts students living off-campus, as they often have to be home by six to not be left stranded on campus. This makes life even more difficult for students living off campus, especially if they do not have their own car.
Some students do not have their own means of transportation and rely heavily on the bus routes to get them to where they need to go. According to Ilana Kowarski of U.S. News, the average percentage of students who brought cars to campus in the 2016-2017 academic year was 46.8%.
This shows a majority of students do not have a reliable source of transportation, and likely depend on public transportation to get to their destination quicker. With later bus routes, students would not have to worry about walking in the dark after class and would be able to return home quickly and safely.
Furthermore, later campus bus routes could also help with the lack of parking on our campus. If students knew they would always be able to catch the bus for a later class, students would be less inclined to bring their car with them to campus, which would hopefully result in less cars on campus overall. This would also have the added effect of decreasing the heavy traffic on campus.
As someone who relies greatly on our lovely SMART bus system, it would be far more convenient and beneficial if the routes lasted longer into the evening. I know many students, including myself, have labs and organization meetings after 6 p.m. and would greatly appreciate the option to catch the bus, particularly during the upcoming colder months.