• Shalom Baer and Praise Okunbor

Shuttle available from MSU to shopping centers

For students who don’t own vehicles, living in North Dakota’s climate can be a struggle. The Office of International Programs at Minot State has carried out a plan devised by students to provide transportation.

“Transportation has always been a challenge for Minot State students who do not have cars, especially international students, but also for local and out-of-state students,” said Libby Claerbout, director of international programs. “We have struggled for years to try to help international students have a way to run errands, go shopping, and attend doctors appointments and church services. There has never been a convenient, affordable, and dependable option until now.”

During the spring semester of 2019, a group of students working on a research project for the Roger Looyenga Leadership Program chose the transportation issue as their topic.

“A student group was tasked with identifying and trying to solve a campus problem. Some of the students in that group were international students who identified local transportation as a huge need,” Claerbout said. “They initiated conversations with Souris Basin Transportation.”

Claerbout said that after the semester ended, her office took the reins to complete a plan to provide options for students through Souris Basin Transportation.

“After the semester came to an end, I took over conversations with Darrell Francis, the executive director of Souris Basin,” she said. “To help them identify a route and schedule, the Office of International Programs polled international students over the summer to determine what destinations and days would work best for the most people.”

A shuttle has been operating every Saturday since August, leaving the bus stop near Lura Manor for SCHEELS and Walmart at noon and 1:45 p.m. Returning shuttles depart Walmart at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and SCHEELS at 1:35 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.

“This is the first time a shuttle of this sort has been available from our campus. Before August, students would have the option of calling a taxi or using rideshare options such as Lyft or Uber,” Claerbout said.

Jenisa Chuayjarernsook, a biology sophomore from California, thinks it’s a convenient means of transportation.

“It’s an excellent mode of transport for students without a car, and it takes you to well-known shopping centers,” Chuayjarernsook said. “I used Lyft before knowing about the shuttle. I would spend at least $10 to go out on weekends.” The international office provides ride tokens to international students. The tickets are purchased with international student fees.

“At this point, we have not set a limit on the number of tokens that students can receive, but we only give out four at a time. That process might change in the future,” Claerbout said. “The shuttle route is also open to the public, and anyone can ride it for $2.50 one way.”

Souris Basin Transportation offers individual rides aside from the shuttle. For rates and times, visit www.sourisbasintransportation.com.

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