The Student Government Association is revving its engine about making improvements on the transportation system at Florida A&M.
Breyon Love, a third-year accounting student and vice president of SGA, had a lot to say about improving The Venom, FAMU’s transportation system powered by StarMetro.
“We are looking into the possibility of getting away from StarMetro and getting our own busing system so we can have total control of all of our transportation options,” Love said. “That’s something that we are looking into now, owning our own transportation system.”
One of the features Love said he wants to add if given the possibility would be night transportation to take students to different clubs in the vicinity.
Love said that having the night system could reduce the number of people drinking and driving. But along with lessening drunk-driving, Love said that safety overall for students can be improved by having a night transportation system.
Qadira Williams, third-year a nursing student at FAMU said something similar to the Night Nole would be a great addition to the venom routes.
“The time frame is inconvenient. I don’t leave the library until 10: 30 p.m. so by that time I have to walk home and its dark and unsafe,” Williams said. “Safety patrol doesn’t help me out so it’s a lonely walk.
We should definitely have something similar to the Night Nole.” Sounding a bit similar to the Night Nole, Florida State’s own after hours transportation, StarMetro representative Heather Teter explained that if students at FAMU want a similar system to FSU, then talking with FAMU officials and SGA members would be the best way to do it since Star Metro and FAMU have an abiding contract. Teter said that on average, FAMU pays $520,000 for its yearly contract with StarMetro so students are able to ride the bus for free.
“Each year FAMU and the Star Metro staff meet to discuss any changes needed to the contract. We evaluate on an annual basis. At that time, we also discuss billing costs due to the fluctuation of gas,” Teter said. “The U-Pass service is the official title of the program that allows students to ride Star Metro’s regular routes for free.” Although student may ride the bus with just a swipe of their rattler card, some have a hard time catching the bus before it leaves.
Jazmine Bartee, a third-year nursing student from Tallahassee, Fla., is one of those students.
“Sometimes the bus comes when its supposed to and other times it doesn’t,” Bartee said. “I could be just walking out at the time that it normally comes and it is leaving.” Teter said Star Metro hopes to eliminate that problem within the next six months to a year by adding a new feature. StarMetro is hoping to implement a text messaging application that will allow customers to get arrival times on their cellular phones. “This application will allow customers to text their bus stop number, which will be on the bus stop sign, to 27299,” Teter said. “After a few seconds, the customer will receive a corresponding text that will detail the next bus arrival times for each route serving that particular stop. This application will be available to the university services and regular route services.”
While this process may eliminate some issues a few students and non-students have with the transportation system, some are saying all of the issues need to be fixed to make a smoother ride. Love has run into some problems riding the bus. When he swiped his rattler card it would say invalid. “This year we were able to get a new rattler card system where the cards were more feasible for swiping,” Love said. “I rode the bus all last year and I still ride the bus now because I don’t have a car. I see a difference in that.” Teter said the busing system has been adequate over the years and no proposal has been made to upgrade the system. “The contract between FAMU and StarMetro is that StarMetro is to provide the Venom Express 1 and 2 with an Engineering route. Also, the contract allows for FAMU students to ride for free on StarMetro’s regular routes. To my knowledge, there has not been any concerns raised about the contract to warrant a cancellation,” Teter said. Other complaints student have toward the system include over crowded buses and hours of operation.
“They are crowed,” Bartee said. “I think they need to have another bus. It’s just not working. It stops at 10 p.m. They need to have a bus on the weekends. Say you stay in Palmetto South and you want to go to the café, that’s a long walk.”