By Alyssa Schnugg
Oxford-University Transit bus ridership improved slightly in September thanks to football and the return of the University of Mississippi students.
During the month of September, 20,570 people rode an OUT bus. About 16,719 are estimated to be students or faculty at the University, according to numbers presented Wednesday during the monthly OUT Commission meeting.
In August, about 11,158 people rode the bus. The buses carried 1,330 people on the first home football game on Aug. 26.
“The numbers are pretty good compared to last month,” said OUT General Manager Donna Zampella. “Of course, not as good as last year, but we’ll take it.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, OUT saw more than a million riders a year in recent years.
OUT also runs SafeRide, an after-hours bus that shuttles students from the Square back to their dorms on campus. Last month, only two students rode the SafeRide bus.
“I know the University is trying to promote it and make sure the word gets out that it’s there for the students,” Zampella said.
The SafeRide bus operates now just on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to midnight.
In August, OUT suspended two routes due to low ridership. On Wednesday, Zampella said OUT will probably keep the routes as is going into the spring semester and then make changes or re-add routes if warranted.
Campus routes will end on Nov. 24 when UM breaks for the semester and will resume on Jan. 11.