Jefferson City transit moves forward with contractor suggestions
JEFFERSON CITY - People who take the bus in Jefferson City may soon have more options as they ride.
Jefferson City Transit will present recommendations to Public Works based on suggestions made by contractor, Lochmueller Group, in October. Transit Director Mark Mehmert said the department has been internally discussing the suggestions and is finally ready to move forward.
Mehmert said the public will most likely not see changes until early 2018, but small changes that do not require public opinion will be made soon.
"We are looking at changes to five of our six routes," Mehmert said. "But for one, the Business 50 route, would actually see a very small change that would affect no riders, and in terms of service it actually will add service to a neighborhood."
Currently, the routes work on a loop system, but Mehmert said the city will look to change the routes to a bidirectional system.
"This will cut out areas that may not have a whole lot of ridership," Mehmert said. "This way the bus can turn around, come back and frequency will increase in the higher traffic places. We want more opportunities for people to get on the bus."
Mehmert said public opinion is crucial to the process for the five routes with significant changes.
One of the most popular suggestions from Jefferson City residents is adding evening and Saturday services. Lochmueller Group suggested the High Street West, Business 50 East, Missouri Boulevard and Capital Mall routes run from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays.
These routes were also suggested for extended weekday evening services, operating until about 8 p.m.
"These things, Saturday service and evenings, they've been asked for for quite some time, " Mehmert said. "The thing is, those things require resources."
To create resources, Mehmert said the city may suggest a 25-cent fare increase, but will not ask that fare increase be put in place until additional amenities are added to routes.
Lochmueller Group also recommended recertifying Handi-Wheels riders to save money.
"We spend a lot more dollars on riders and resources on our Handi-Wheels system than a lot of other folks do on their paratransit systems," Mehmert said. "They're saying perhaps we can retain someone to come in and recertify our users and make sure those that are eligible for the service are the ones who will receive it."
Mehmert said the process to changing the system takes a long time and asks the public to be patient.
"We have a lot of deliberation and studying to do still and it isn't the only thing we have to focus on here," Mehmert said.
The city is currently beta testing an automatic vehicle location system.
"So, when the changes do take place, assuming they do, people will be able to find out exactly where the bus is at that moment," Mehmert said.
Mehmert said he expects recommendations to be presented in April.