TalTran to assign local colleges new unique buses

While many students complain about the long waits at bus stops and the amount of routes available, the newly appointed TalTran director, Ronald Garrison, has developed six steps to improve the bus system and student ridership.

Garrison said he plans to partner with Florida A&M University, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College to give the universities their own identity buses.

“I want students and the community to enjoy riding the bus,” Garrison said.

The city recently revealed the new bus system logo, StarMetro, formerly known as TalTran, and city commissioners approved the new concept at a recent city commission meeting. There are six concepts Garrison plans to implement to better services: communication, technology, service, amenities, opportunities and excellence.

Garrison has been in consistent meetings with FAMU Student Government Association

President, Ramon Alexander, and school officials about the new partnership and the bus design.

Alexander said they are in the early preliminary stages, but believes the new partnership will be successful because there are quality people whose priority is to make things happen.

“You must first change the culture of the bus in order to encourage more students to take the bus,” Alexander, 21, a senior political science student from Tallahassee, said.

StarMetro plans to negotiate a five-year contract with FAMU for students to continue to ride free, be able to swipe their cards and have access to all bus amenities.

Under the new authority, students and the community can expect new routes and new technologies on the bus. Routes 9 and 11, between FSU and FAMU will double their stops by early next year.

The new technologies will include bus TV’s, driving stimulators, devices that tell when the bus will arrive, fare boxes that will accept credit cards and student ID’s to help track the most frequently used routes. Garrison said he would like to double the amount of bus shuttles in Tallahassee, which is currently 37.

“I would choose to have 200 bus shuttles,” Garrison said.

However, he said people must understand that there is a process the system has to go through.

“Technology takes time to implement,” Garrison said.

“And StarMetro is starting from scratch.”

StarMetro’s director hopes to recreate the system through innovation, service excellence and employee ownership.

Even bus drivers can expect new uniforms. According to the Tallahassee Democrat,

Garrison expects ridership to increase 4 to 5 percent a year.

Now that his idea was unanimously approved, Garrison plans to go before the commissioners to request funding for needed areas. The commissioners upheld the request for $3.5 million over the next three years to implement Garrison’s changes.

A number of FAMU students were amazed to hear about the new ideas, but questioned how long it will be before they will actually see changes on FAMU’s campus.

Although Reanna Jones 19, a sophomore biology student from Jacksonville, said she only takes Venom Route 46, she believes there should be more frequent stops on FAMU’s campus.

Antoine Richards, 18, a freshman pharmacy student from Atlanta, said he only uses the same two buses, but they are sometimes crowded.

Jones and some other students said it’s much easier to drive around in their vehicles because they see no reason to take the bus.

But for some students the situation is different.

Khia Gilbert has been riding the bus since her freshman year at FAMU because the bus is her only source of transportation. Gilbert, a sophomore accounting student from Miami, said she would like to see new changes implemented.

“It would be nice if all students rode the bus,” Gilbert said.

Garrison said he is enthused about the future changes because it has never been done before in Tallahassee’s bus system existence.

Garrison said that he wanted the university to be associated with the developments to the transportation system.

“I want FAMU to take part.”

Contact Jequisha Williams at cbkw22@yahoo.com