By Keith Randall
Published: Friday, February 8, 2008
Getting taken for a ride has a whole new meaning at Texas A&M University – and students
seem to love the idea.
Everything about the university’s fleet bus system is new – new name,
new buses, new approach. Officially titled "The Aggie Spirit,”
the transit system, operated by Transportation Services, dedicated new buses and
unveiled its new name recently by university officials.
"We operate the largest student bus fleet in the country,” Rod Weis,
director of Transportation Services, said at the naming ceremony.
"We can also say we have the most modern buses in the industry, so this really
is a new day and new era for our system.”
Weis said his office and Texas A&M’s Division of Marketing and Communications,
as well as student bus drivers, worked in conjunction to choose an appropriate name
for the fleet, and Aggie Spirit was enthusiastically selected.
The transit system racks up some impressive numbers.
Weis says that each year, the buses – 80 in all – travel more than 1.5
million miles in making their various routes in and around Aggieland. The routes
also include trips to apartment complexes and residential areas throughout portions
of College Station and into some areas of neighboring Bryan.
In addition, about 15,000 passengers a day ride the buses and most of the drivers
are Texas A&M students who complete rigorous safety and training programs as
Texas A&M’s shuttle bus system began operations in 1982. Weis said at
that time, bus routes were named for different Aggie traditions.
The new buses are state-of-the-art vehicles that are more streamlined and fuel efficient,
"We did our homework (on selecting the new buses),” he added.
"We asked students what they wanted. We needed to know what they thought
and what their needs are. Student input was very important in this entire
process,” Weis noted.
Texas A&M President Elsa Murano said she could testify firsthand that the buses
are a valuable service to students, faculty and staff.
She recalled that when she first came to the university in 1995, a thunderstorm
hit and her car was in a parking lot across campus. "I hopped on a bus and
it was great,” she said.
"The drivers always seem so friendly. These new buses will be a great addition
to our fleet. Two things any university president likes to hear about are
things that save money and student involvement, and these new buses provide both.”