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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- LaSonja Rush says getting around Starkville without a car can be a hassle.

“Most of the time I’m walking. If it weren’t for a friend of mine I’d be walking in the cold,” said Rush.

So, when she got word that a transit system that was free of charge was rolling into Starkville, she couldn’t have been happier.

“It seems like a good plan for Starkville,” said Rush.

The Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit System or S.M.A.R.T. revved their engines for the first time Monday. Mississippi State officials are calling it a soft launch.

“Starting next week, all 16 buses will be out there on those 7 routes. There are three routes that run into the city now. We have the Boardtown loop which circles the community out here in Starkville. We have what we all the Old Main Express and that goes down University drive and that connects downtown to your main campus. And then we have the Sportsplex Express and that runs from Lynn Lane to the main part of campus,” said Mike Harris, Director of Parking & Transportation at Mississippi State University.

The idea for S.M.A.R.T. began 3 years ago. City and County leaders wanted to offer a unique service, bridging the gap between the University and the Community.

” For a small town we have taxi services of course, but that’s really the only way to get transportation if you don’t have it and so for those folks that might be elderly, folks without transportation it really is a service that many towns our size don’t have,” said Jennifer Gregory, CEO for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.

Most residents say they think the transit system will be a huge success.

” Honestly I didn’t know anything about it.  I’ve seen it a few times, but I just didn’t know a whole lot about it, but I think it’s good,” said Starkville resident Trent Cole.

The funding for S.M.A.R.T. comes from a $2.3 million grant by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

You can find full route listings and schedules here: http://www.smart.msstate.edu/

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