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Missouri Western State University students will continue to be able to ride the St. Joseph Transit system for free.

Students, faculty and anyone else with a valid Missouri Western State University ID will continue to be able to ride the St. Joseph Transit for free, and the city will be able to make some money from them.

The St. Joseph City Council voted in a fee for Missouri Western access ridership on Monday night.

According to Assistant Director of Public Works and Transportation Andy Clements, Missouri Western will pay a one dollar-per-student-per-semester fee to the city in order to keep the program going.

“It’s essentially a charge that will allow the full-time enrolled students at Missouri Western to be able to access and use the transit system,” Clements said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Shana Meyer said that no new fees will be given to students because of the fee.

“There will not be any new fees for our students. This is something that was able to be absorbed into our Student Governing Association’s budget,” Meyer said.

The deal between the city and university came after the student government proposed the need for transportation for students. A trial period was enacted for two semesters and students and faculty were allowed to ride for free in order to determine just how needed the deal was.

The number of riders at Missouri Western greatly exceeded estimates, much to Meyer’s surprise.

“That greatly surprises me,” Meyer said. “We had a goal of 9,600 rides and we ended up with over 18,000 rides on the system. So, our students are using it and it’s a great way to get them into St. Joseph.”

The Missouri Western route, Route 15, has seen a major boost in ridership. It is the busiest route with 61 percent of rides. The next most popular routes are the St. Joseph Avenue. route (Route 11) with 10 percent and the Faraon-Jules route (Route 14) with 9 percent.

The route is expected to generate $11,800 per school year with the new fee.

Clements expects that word of mouth and continued service will cause the route to grow even more.

“While ridership continues to grow in the transit system here in St. Joe, on that particular route, I would expect we’re probably going to move into the 80 percent range,” Clements said.

Jena Sauber can be reached at jena.sauber@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPSauber.