Miami University Metro buses will soon be rolling to Walmart. In late March or early April, Miami will run a trial route in hopes of establishing a permanent route, according to Miami University Police Lt. Benjamin Spilman.
The addition of a route to Walmart is the result of input from public forums, students and transportation consultants involved in Miami’s 2011 circulation master plan, Spilman said.
“This is very much a student-driven project,” Spilman said. ” We’re still looking at whether this will be used on an ongoing basis or not. We hope that it’ll be on a regular basis, and that will make it easier to incorporate this in our regular routes.”
The trial runs will take place on a weekday evening between 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and a weekend day between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. One bus will make six 45-minute “laps” of the route, which services major residential areas both on and off campus, according to Spilman.
Running twice a week, the route will cost about $2,500 a month to operate. Spilman said other underutilized routes may be consolidated to prevent fee increases to students.
Oxford Walmart Store Manager Jacob Hilton has applied to corporate offices for a grant to cover the costs of the trial run. Hilton said Walmart is also planning promotions, such as giving away gift cards to some bus passengers, to increase student interest in the route.
“We’re excited to get this going,” Hilton said. “We’re a couple of miles away and it would be a great thing for the students to ride the bus [here].”
Sophomore Scott Hyland said a Miami Metro bus to Walmart will help students, especially underclassmen.
“As someone who has walked to Walmart, It’d be nice to have a bus going there,” Hyland said. “I think its great for people who don’t have a car.”
The 2.1 mile trek from campus to Walmart can be arduous on foot, according to sophomore Molly Sosnowski.
“I’ve walked it three times. It’s like a whole day thing,” Sosnowski said.
Spilman said the path and timing of the route will be set based on rider feedback.
“We’re looking for everybody’s feedback and input,” Spilman said. “We want to find ways to make campus life easier for everybody.”
Students wishing to give input should go to www.muohio.edu/parking/newmetroroutes.