More students at the University of South Florida are riding the campus bus system than ever before.
The Bull Runner began its first route in fall 1997, with 84,579 riders. Since then, there has been an almost 15-fold increase. Last year’s numbers totaled 1,227,682 riders, said Rick Fallin, USF transportation manager, in a Feb. 3 phone interview.
“There is a gradual trend to increase on the ridership of the Bull Runner,” Fallin said. In the past four years, the Bull Runner has increased its patronage by an average of 16.2 percent.
A boost in bus usage can be seen throughout the U.S. There was a 13.4 percent rider increase between 2008 and 2011 at Emory University, Transportation and Parking Services, wrote in an email on Feb. 9.
In addition, Miami-Dade County increased its numbers by 57 percent between 2008 and 2010 after improvements were made on the bus system, according to the U.S Department of Transportation.
As the cost of living rises, some students take the bus instead of paying for a parking pass. “I think the parking passes are overpriced,” said senior Cassandra Kendall, who uses the D bus to get to school instead of parking on campus. In 2009 an annual parking pass cost $161. Jumping eight percent to $174 in 2012, said Mary Damiano.
Some students, who live farther away from USF than the Bull Runner routes reach, drive their car to the University Mall, park at Dillard’s and take the D bus to campus.
The roads to and on campus can be packed with cars because USF is a commuter school. The Bull Runner was created to stop congestion and make it possible to come to school without a car, Fallin said.
The issue students who park on campus face is that they must find a place to park.
“I take the Bull Runner because I will never make it to my class on time if I try to find a parking spot,” said senior Katie Keller, who parks at the public health building and takes the B bus to the Marshall Student Center.
Because of the increase in ridership, three 40-foot buses and one 30-foot bus were added to the C route. The riders on the C route can account for almost half of the riders on campus and new equipment is needed to handle the load, Fallin said.