Shawn Elliot Zetzer

Oxford launched a new pilot program Tuesday that will offer on-demand curb-to-curb public transportation to students andOxford residents.

“We have been talking with folks in Oxford in public transportation,” said Carla Lakatos, executive director of the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA). “Obviously funds are tight so we can’t do everything but we have elected to introduce a mid-day, mid-level public shuttle.”

The service is based on reservation during the pilot program and will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Patrons can arrange for the service by calling (513) 785-5237. The service, already offered in both Hamilton and Fairfield, has experienced success throughout the county.

“In Hamilton it’s been so successful that we use it five days a week and those buses are (full),” Lakatos said.

Oxford’s pilot program will be offered through April 2010. Then it will be reviewed and the program will be expanded, reduced or integrated depending on trends and the number of riders.

Some Oxford city councilors said they hope students will begin to use this service instead of private means of transportation, which would subsequently decrease the number of cars on the road.

“I think the student population is more likely to ride,” said city councilor Greg Rutherford who is also a member of the Oxford Parking and Transportation Board. “More students come from more dense urban environments and are used to public transit.”

Miami University junior Justin Reddington said he thinks the plan may ease off-campus parking problems.

“Living off-campus it can be a difficult parking situation,” Reddington said. “Depending on how long I planned on staying where I was and the amount of people I was traveling with I would use the service.”

According to Rutherford, the program will aim to curb issues of congestion, impact on citizens, emergency services and parking for out-of-town shoppers.

“It’s really rather remarkable that in a town the size of Oxford we can get into these kind of traffic delays,” Rutherford said.

According to Lakatos, riders will pay a $2 one-way fee for the service or $4 round trip. BCRTA will cover any additional costs during the program’s provisional run in Oxford.

Lakatos said the ability to keep the program affordable for riders is based on the amount of draw the program gets from the community.

“We are very budget-minded right now and (are) being fiscally conservative,” Rutherford said. “Cost and success will be determined by ridership. It is important we have good ridership so we can show that this program is actually sustainable.”

Oxford’s carbon footprint could also be affected by the success of this program and the continuation of programs like it.

“What kind of steps can we take to be responsible stewards of our environment?” asked Rutherford, who would also like to see cycling paths along the streets of Oxford. “We really want to lead Southwest Ohio in these areas. We are a small town and if we can do it larger communities can do it too.”