COLUMBIA- The city's FastCAT buses are not meeting the success officials thought they would. Mayor Bob McDavid said he wants Columbia's bus system to mimic that of Ames, Ia. or Champaign, Ill., but Columbia's has not reached that success.
"There's just not a lot of people riding buses in Columbia," Mayor Bob McDavid said. "We're offering a service that's just not being used."
Officials are talking about making changes to the current bus system or even cutting back on routes, but the public information officer for Columbia Public Works, Steven Sapp, said they are not planning to lay off any drivers.
A new project called Como Connect is in the works. It is in its early stages right now, but it would allow riders to get on the buses in more than 30 stops and would replace the current bus system.
McDavid said another reason the Columbia bus system has not been successful is because it has not kept up with technological changes. McDavid said Columbia does not have the technology other systems have, but a new phone app aims to increase ridership. The app will allow riders to check the location of each bus and the estimated time of arrival. McDavid said it is too hard to buy passes for the buses, but the city is trying to set up an online system to purchase the passes.
"Our goal is to get ridership up to 90 or 100 riders" on each route, McDavid said.
Sapp said he does not see the bus system going away completely.
"If we proposed to do away with it completely, there would be a segment of the population that would come forward and say we depend upon this," Sapp said. "Public transit is a necessity in towns of our size because there are people who don't have the ability to own an automobile."
The bus app is available now through the city's FastCAT web site.