Bus system improves student independence, safety

Marshall’s Green Machine is often utilized by students on late nights and weekends.

Photo courtesy of Marshall University

Marshall’s Green Machine is often utilized by students on late nights and weekends.

Since its initial run in 2016, a Marshall bus has provided more than 55 thousand rides for members of the herd. The Green Machine, along with the other busses that run with the Tristate Transit Authority (TTA), has been helping students gain independence and stay safe all while doing so for practically nothing according to the Paul Davis, CEO of the TTA.

“The TTA is essentially free, and you can go basically anywhere,” Davis said. “Some students really need a way to get around if they are maybe freshmen that don’t have a vehicle, or anyone that doesn’t have a vehicle, or international students, too. It’s an added value to Marshall.

After former Student Body Vice President Izzy Rogner pushed for students to have access to the busses, Davis worked with Rogner and Marshall University to establish what exactly the students wanted the Green Machine to do for them.

Some of the research showed that students wanted later hours and direct routes to places that Marshall students often go to, such as the Visual Arts Center in Pullman Plaza, Kroger on 5th Avenue and more.

Students can use the Green Machine and any of the other TTA busses by just swiping their Marshall student IDs when they get on the bus. While they do pay a $16 fee in tuition to cover the TTA, there is no limit to how many times a student can ride the busses.

According to some students, including Patricia Thornton, a recent Marshall education graduate, the free access to the bus has been a positive impact on her life.

“[The bus system] is truly a blessing,” Thornton said. “I can go to the store, downtown and wherever I want whenever I want to. And just by swiping my ID”

Thornton also stated the bus was not free when she had started at Marshall, and she said she believes it is something that students should take advantage of.

“When I started going to school, this was not available,” Thornton said. “The busses are extremely helpful, exceptionally helpful. When I found out about the Marshall route, I was like ‘sign me up, this is great.’”

Davis also stated students having access to essentially free and reliable transportation gives them many opportunities in the city, so he was happy to partner with Marshall University.

“We knew Marshall University having this partnership with the TTA would always be a good thing,” Davis said. “It gives students independence, opportunities to go to the grocery store, employment. We just knew it would be an added value to coming to Marshall University.”

The Green Machine is also available during unconventional hours compared to other routes with the TTA. During the school year, the Marshall bus runs from midnight to 3 a.m. so that students are staying safe if they are out late, according to Davis.

“The idea is safety, it’s all about safety,” Davis said. “We don’t care what the students are doing downtown after midnight. Our primary concern is that we get you back home or back to campus safety. We don’t ask questions.”

The late night shift route follows 4th and 5th avenues and allows drivers to use their personal discretion, according to Davis, who says that even though 6th Avenue is not “on the designated route,” drivers can choose to drop students off at their apartments to ensure they get home.

Randy Waller, a bus driver with the TTA for the last ten years, started driving the Green Machine consistently last year and has seen students using the bus to their full advantage ever since. Waller has taken the time to get to know many of his regular riders, a noticeable trait when he paused multiple times during questioning to greet riders by their first names. Waller said he enjoys driving the Green Machine, and he said that he enjoys how the students often spark conversations with him.

“They’re very sociable group of people, never have any problems at all out of them,” Waller said. “They’re just a good group of people. And they can get almost anywhere with the busses.”

Waller also stated that he was surprised more students did not know that they have access to the TTA basically for free, and he encouraged people to use it while they can.

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]