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Monday, September 25, 2023

Jodi-Ann Pinnock waited at the bus stop carrying her books. Her arms were tired. She wanted to sit down as she waited, but she couldn't.

Last week, fire ants swarmed at the Lexington Crossing bus stop on Southwest 27th Street biting students, including Pinnock, and preventing them from having a pleasant commute.

Pinnock, a third-year industrial engineering major at UF, said it is an inconvenience to have to stand by the road and not use the benches.

"I can't stand directly in front of the bus stop because they are all over," she said. "I have to stand closer to the road, which is dangerous."

The number of students who are affected by the ants is significant, but according to Theresa Harrison, marketing coordinator for Regional Transit System station 5, the ants have not been brought to her attention and there have been no formal reports of problems at any stops.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately, Harrison said.

Other bus stops are also being affected by fire ants.

The waiting areas at The Laurels Apartments on Southwest 34th Street on route 35 also has a problem with ants.

Jamie Miller, a first-year graduate student at UF, said she sees students slapping their legs and trying to kill fire ants before they are bit on a daily basis.

"Every time I'm out there I see fire ants," she said. "I get bit maybe once a day."

Thousands of students use the bus stops every day. In April, 70,300 riders used route 9 and 29,427 riders used route 34, which stops at Lexington Crossing. Route 35 had 53,178 riders, which stops at The Laurels. Pinnock said she was unsure who to report the problem to and thought it could be the responsibility of the apartment complexes.

Harrison said in an e-mail that RTS is responsible for fixing the fire ant problem and maintaining the stops.

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A route maintenance worker was notified and is fixing the problem immediately, Harrison said.

In an e-mail, Harrison said that customer feedback has prompted RTS to review and analyze procedures that resulted in changes to procedures, routes and additional service enhancements.

If there are any concerns from riders, contact RTS at (352) 334-2600 or, Harrison said.

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