Many first-year students at Florida A&M University do not have a vehicle to get them from point A to point B, so they have to find alternate means of transportation.
Many students take advantage of StarMetro, a transit system that services the FAMU, Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University.
Some students find StarMetro convenient and helpful, but others think the bus system is unreliable and flawed.
Erin Barnes, 18, a freshman business administration student from Fort Pierce, said she enjoys riding the campus shuttles. “It is convenient. I usually take it to the mall and the cafÃ©,” Barnes said although she later said the buses have a bad odor at times.
Jeremy Battles, 18, a pharmacy student from West Palm Beach, said he uses StarMetro quite often.
The freshman said he uses the bus system mostly to get to and from his apartment in Palmetto South, but he expressed some disdain over system’s lack of punctuality.
“They say that a bus is supposed to come around every 10 minutes, but most of the time, it takes about 20 or 25 minutes,” Battles said. “It can make you late for class.”
Battles said he thinks the Venom, three of the StarMetro routes that transports only students to different parts of the campus, should run on Saturdays so people in his complex can have a way to travel to and from Palmetto.
Even though some Star Metro patrons have complaints about their operations, they offered some ideas about how StarMetro can become more convenient for the people who rely on it. Chariese Walton, 18, a freshman business administration student from Pensacola, said she uses the bus system frequently. “It’s convenient and really easy once you learn the routes,” said Walton, who believes the buses do not run frequently enough.
She also said she thinks StarMetro’s hours of operations on Sundays should be extended to the operating hours of the weekdays.
Bus drivers are also concerned by the patrons’ complaints. The drivers are affected by the patrons’ feelings because the way the patrons feel, affects the way StarMetro operates.Patrons should understand that it is not always possible for buses to be as prompt as they would like them to be, said Melinda Atkins, 48, a StarMetro bus driver.
“Sometimes things happen that drivers just can’t help,” Atkins said. “Sometimes, there’s something on the bus that needs fixing, and we have to get gas just like everybody else. Plus we need to take breaks after driving some of the longer routes.”There are nine StarMetro routes that service FAMU, FSU and TCC.
Students can find out more about StarMetro by getting a “Ride Guide” located at different spots on and off campus or by going to www.talgov.com.
With additional reporting by Brent Hatchett.