Students living in the far-flung areas of Alachua County will soon be able to grab a free daily ride to Santa Fe College’s main campus.
Beginning in spring, Santa Fe College will offer free round-trip transportation from rural cities around Gainesville to its Northwest Campus via the EXTRA Shuttle.
The shuttle will run each morning around 8 a.m. and each afternoon at 2 p.m. on weekdays while classes are in session, serving the Archer, Newberry, High Springs and Alachua communities, said Naima Brown, vice president for student affairs at Santa Fe College.
The EXTRA Shuttle was designed to help out students in rural areas who, otherwise, may not have the opportunity to access or pursue higher education, she said.
“We know that in our rural areas, students who don't have transportation to get to the college or to one of our centers are missing out on this chance to improve themselves,” she said.
Shellie Banfield, director of the Santa Fe College Davis Center in Archer, said the EXTRA Shuttle service will also allow rural students to take lab science courses that the Davis Center isn’t large enough to provide, such as chemistry, microbiology and calculus.
“It's really gonna be a great opportunity for folks to get to those classes that right now, we cannot provide out of the Davis Center just because we don't have a wet lab,” she said.
A Santa Fe College student originally inspired the idea for the shuttle, Brown said. The student, who lived in Alachua at the time, approached the college’s president expressing a need for transit from campus to the outer reaches of the county.
Brown said the college partnered with their transportation committee, MV transportation, to work on the project. After two years of applying to receive a grant for the service, the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged finally awarded them the money this year.
Santa Fe representatives have not released the cost of the shuttle as of Thursday evening.
“For all those students that don't have transportation, and that's been a barrier for school for them, we're saying that barrier has been removed,” she said. “Come on to Santa Fe.”