New Mid-State shuttle service removes transportation barriers for students
A new transportation shuttle at Mid-State Technical College is making it easier for students to pursue a degree when transportation to a specific Mid-State campus to access a program presents an obstacle.
The shuttle is free to all Mid-State students thanks to a collaboration with Wisconsin Automotive & Truck Education Association (WATEA) and funding provided by the State of Wisconsin Workforce Innovation Grant made possible through American Rescue Plan Act. The service uses vans that can carry up to 15 passengers and provides travel between the college’s Adams, Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids campuses.
Although the program was launched with minimal promotion on Aug. 22, riders have taken advantage of the new transportation option from day one and every week since. Currently five routes are running per day from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“When I did the math, it was a quick decision to reserve my seat on the shuttle,” said Mid-State student Jarek Frank, who rides the shuttle every Tuesday and Thursday between Adams and Wisconsin Rapids, where he is enrolled full-time in the Automotive Technician program. “I decided to just use it when I have longer days on campus, but I will still save at least $1,000 per year on gas costs, not to mention wear and tear on my car,” he added.
It was also easy to sign up for the shuttle and get in contact with the college with any questions, Frank said.
Mid-State IT Software Developer graduate Joe Jirschele of Wisconsin Rapids decided to become a driver for the program as a way to get involved with the Mid-State community. “The riders have been maintaining a fairly regular schedule, which tells me that the service is very important to them,” he said. “I think that connecting students throughout our central Wisconsin communities strengthens their commitment to education, and we see that each time a student rides our shuttle.”
Mid-State’s partner in the service, WATEA, is a nonprofit that connects transportation-related businesses with educational systems and workforce programs in order to improve the quantity and quality of transportation-supporting workers in Wisconsin.
“We are continually looking for ways to better serve our students and remove barriers to their education, and today’s transportation challenges are high on that list,” said Dr. Bobbi Damrow, vice president of Workforce & Economic Development and Community Relations. “We are grateful for the partnership with WATEA and funding through the Workforce Innovation Grant that make this important new resource available to our students and hopefully enable even more in the future to access Mid-State’s life-changing educational opportunities.”
“The WATEA board feels that this proposal from Mid-State aligns wonderfully with the organization’s mission to improve workforce development opportunities across central Wisconsin,” said WATEA Executive Director Sara Guild. “They were excited to have this chance to use Workforce Innovation Grant funds to grow our employment shuttle service in partnership with Mid-State.”
The Workforce Innovation Grant Program is a collaboration between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The program encourages the development of leading-edge, long-term solutions that enable businesses to more easily find workers and empower those workers to more successfully prepare for and connect to the family-supporting careers in their regions.
Mid-State’s plans for the shuttle service include exploring ways to grow the program to meet the needs of more current and future students through expanded routes and additional stops at non-campus locations. The college is actively monitoring usage and evaluating student and potential rider needs. To share your feedback and learn more about the shuttle and its WIG funding visit mstc.edu/shuttle.