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Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024
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Mercer bus routes still out of service due to MTA driver shortages

The Macon Transit Authority is not currently in operation for Mercer students.
The Macon Transit Authority is not currently in operation for Mercer students.

On Aug. 25, the Office of Student Affairs announced that due to driver shortages, the Macon Transit Authority (MTA) bus service would not be in operation for Mercer students until further notice. Prior to the announcement, the service transported students to different locations in Macon, including downtown and various grocery stores.

MTA President and CEO Craig Ross expressed regret in a statement sent to Dr. Doug Pearson, dean of students at Mercer, regarding the interruption of Mercer bus routes, including the Thursday, Friday, Saturday downtown route and the Saturday Gray Highway shopping route.

“We are in the midst of a prolonged bus driver shortage and are working hard to hire a sufficient number of drivers as quickly as possible to cover our daily routes as well as the Mercer routes and will keep you apprised about our progress," Ross wrote. "We look forward to restoring the Mercer routes as soon as it's feasible.”

This news has been difficult for new students like Sri Srinivasan ‘27 who were looking forward to utilizing the bus service at Mercer.

“Since I didn’t bring my car, I was planning to rely on the service for occasional grocery shopping trips to Walmart or Kroger," Srinivasan said. "Being a vegetarian, I often find on-campus dining options limited, so having the service would have been helpful.”

As an international student from Jamaica, Romona Cameron ‘27 was also anticipating using the shuttle system.

“It’s disheartening that the service is temporarily unavailable, as it would’ve greatly eased my transition to Mercer and Macon in general," Cameron said. "I was excited about the idea of using the system not only for practical reasons but also because it would provide a sense of security and familiarity in this new environment."

Despite this obstacle, Cameron is grateful to have found other sources of transportation.

"The warm welcome I’ve received from the Mercer community has made adapting to life much easier than I anticipated,” Cameron said.

In the past, the bus service has helped students who wanted to explore the Macon area. For Kayla Chambers ’24, having the shuttle system did help enhance her college experience at Mercer.

“In my opinion, Macon is a college town," Chambers said. "Our campus is so small, we walk pretty much everywhere, so the bus gave me that part of college that I was maybe missing."

Jami Gaudet, Public Information Officer for MTA, praised Mercer’s initiative in promoting students’ safety in transportation.

“We applaud Mercer for their desire to have students safely get to and from campus and to prevent students from being in personal vehicles drinking and driving,” Gaudet said.

In light of the shuttle service pause, Mercer students are finding new ways to explore Macon and adapt to campus life. Despite the setback, their resourcefulness and the welcoming Mercer community continue to make a difference. There is still no official word of when the Macon routes will be up and running.

Karisha Khadayat

Karisha Khadayat is a student at Mercer University and a contributing writer for the Mercer Cluster

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