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Riding on Rover: New bus system helps community

The Pulse may have its finger on the pulse of local entertainment, but Rover has its finger on the pulse of the streets.

By now you’ve most likely seen the florescent green buses running around Murfreesboro displaying a precious dog character on its side.

Rover even runs on a “pulse” system and Director of Public Transportation Bob Nugent said this type of system does exactly what it sounds like.

“The pulse system is just like a heart,” Nugent said. “We have six routes and the way the system was designed, all six routes would come together in one location downtown . . . every half hour they pulse into the center.”

The one exception to this rule is the Mercury Route, which works on an hourly schedule. The other five routes are Memorial, Highland, NW Broad, Old Fort and South Church. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, these buses are constantly moving, making Rover’s motto “Moving Murfreesboro” ring true.

Murfreesboro has definitely been on the move ever since the system first rolled out April 20. It’s something Nugent admitted has been in the works for 20 years now.

In 2000, the city reached a population of over 50,000, which made it eligible for federal funding for a public bus system.

So, who’s riding the bus and how’d they learn about it?

“We have riders that have to ride it because they don’t have their own transportation to get to places,” Nugent said. “But we also have attorneys and people in high political offices riding. We have such a cross section of different people, to me, it’s almost amazing that we’ve gone this far this fast.”

Most have heard about Rover just by seeing it.

“That was one of the reasons for the color, image and logo,” Nugent explains. It was eye-catching enough and you are even able to see the green bus at least a half mile ahead of you.”

Lisa, the bus driver for the Highland Route, said she gets compliments on the bus system all the time.

“One lady said, ?You might be tired of hearing me say this, but I get to go to the grocery store when I need to. I have my freedom back,’” Lisa recalls. “I never get tired of hearing these comments.” Having ridden the bus for the first time a couple days ago, I also gave Lisa many compliments. All the drivers I came in contact with were some of the friendliest people in the city, and they seem to enjoy their job because it allows them to meet and help other people.

Riding the bus was a fun experience: the buses are roomy, have cushy blue seats and are well air-conditioned. It was also nice not to drive myself through the busy streets of Murfreesboro. When I rode around 3 p.m. it was quiet with not many people on the bus, usually just one or two other passengers.

The only problem I encountered during my ride was being confused by the routes, but the drivers will answer any questions you may have. Brenda, driver of the Old Fort Route, let me know that if you want to get off anywhere along the route, just pull on the yellow strings beside your seat and she’ll drop you off in a safe place. She also said you can wave a bus down any time, even if you’re across the street.

Rover gives senior citizens independence from always asking others for a ride or paying taxi cabs up to $8 one way. The bus offers rides for 50 cents to senior citizens, disabled individuals and children ages six to 16. The ride for an adult is only a dollar and children under five are free with an adult, and transferring routes is absolutely free. One dollar or less to ride is a ridiculously cheap deal for a system that costs $800,000 to $1 million a year to operate. Fifty percent of this money is given by the federal government, 25 percent by the state and the other 25 percent locally.

Nugent said that no transit system in the U.S. actually covers its costs, but the money from the passenger fees helps. It works like any other public service and driver Lisa believes it is as “much needed as the police, fire or solid waste department.”

“It’s like any other city service that’s offered,” Nugent said. “Not everyone needs public transportation, but if your car breaks down, then you are able to take the bus. It offers the community a tremendous amount. It’s a fact that every dollar you invest in transit, you are going to return four to nine dollars back to the economy. It helps with the environment and [sooner or later] with congestion.”

So even if you have your own car, let someone else do the driving every once in a while. With cheap ticket fees and six routes, you can go many places and spend less than if you were driving yourself.

For more information on the bus routes and schedules Click here

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The Murfreesboro Pulse: Middle Tennessee’s Source for Art, Entertainment and Culture News.

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