Saturday, February 4, 2023

OUT Buses Remain Free-to-Ride

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

Photo via Facebook/OUT

The Oxford University Transit buses will remain free for an undetermined amount of time.

The Transit Commission first dropped the bus fares when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and has continued to allow riders to ride for free since.

OUT General Manager Donna Zampella said the commission decided to continue with the zero fares until such time as the board deems it necessary to start charging again.

On average, bus fares brought in about $50,000 a year.

“The fair we received for a year did not have that much of an impact on our budget and the time and effort it took to manage the fare wasn’t worth it,” she said.

On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved OUT’s $5.5 million budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which was $1.2M less that the current budget.

OUT needs to approve its budget early in the year so it can be submitted to the Mississippi Department of Transportation by the end of February to apply for transportation grants that pay 80 percent of capital costs and 50 percent of the operational costs.

This new budget won’t go into effect until October. The city’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

MDOT’s share of the budget is $3.2M. The city’s share will be $625,413 and the university’s share will be $1.6 million.