COLUMBIA - A group of Columbia residents is calling on the city to hire a consultant to evaluate and improve the current public transit system.
"As a citizen, how can we make our system more focused and efficient so that we can get a person from A to B in a more timely manner? Because there's a lot of waiting that comes when someone is relying on the bus," said Sarah Klaassen, the community organizer of Central Missouri Community Action.
The city council has already instructed city health department to do a health impact assessment relating to available transit for residents. The city is also considering directing part of a utility fee increase to Columbia Transit.
The total federal funding for Columbia Transit is projected to be $16,358,788 over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015.
"The funding for that, it's already here. We are asking the funding for transportation, some of those money could be used for consulting and evaluation, " said Carmen Williams, a board member of a group called Columbians for Modern, Efficient Transit (CoMET).
Prior to that, a full health impact assessment(HIA) report came out in December, 2012. The HIA targeted individuals living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For instance, family of three with an annual income below $38,180 would qualify. A significant number of residents said transportation is a barrier to access health care service.
"I wanna see people go to the grocery store, or go to the doctor, not calling me and saying 'Can you help me? I need a ride,'" said Williams.
The Columbia PedNet organization has run the CoMET group since 2011. By October 2012, about 1,500 Columbia residents and 50 agencies had signed up to support a more efficient public transportation.