Columbia Transit Runs Full Test of New Bus System
COLUMBIA - Sunday is the first time Columbia saw the new COMO Connect bus system in action. All drivers and staff practiced the new routes beginning at 2 p.m. without riders for the first full test run.
"Sunday's full test run is an important piece of our driving training this summer," Columbia's Transportation Superintendent Dale Lynn said. "It will give us an opportunity to test the timing and connection points before the system is opened to customers."
The new routes won't become available until August 4, but the city has had several smaller training practice runs to try to be prepared.
The test run was intentionally done on a Sunday so riders would not be affected. With bus services suspended on Sundays, the test run commenced without any inconvenience. All the buses were marked saying "Not in Service" or "Driver Training" while on the road.
Columbia Public Works reported the new routes and service areas have been in the works for more than a year. It began with feedback from riders saying the bus system needed big changes to keep up with the growing city. Public Works said it did research, took surveys, had public input meetings and did several redesigns before the plan was approved by the City Council in February.
Columbia's Multi-Modal Manager Drew Brooks said the change allows riders to not have to rely on Wabash Station for transfers.
"The changes will allow us to offer faster and more convenient service for today's community that has rapidly outgrown just one central transfer point and is in desperate need of a better public transportation system," he said.
Public Works reported the city is using the six months prior to the switch to print new maps and signs, train drivers and educate people on the system. Columbia Transit plans to open the service on a limited basis in mid-July so that riders can try out the new routes before the big switch.