Columbia Mayor Proposes Student Bus Route1

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COLUMBIA - In front of a Columbia City Hall conference room of onlookers Thursday, Mayor Bob McDavid proposed a new bus route primarily to serve students. The mayor is calling the service "FastCAT" for "Fast Campus Access Transit."

McDavid said the current transit system is operating at a $1.5 million deficit and significant changes need to be made to maximize efficiency while also serving its largest base of customers--students.

The proposed FastCAT system would:

  • Consist of a 30-minute loop from campus to heavy student residential areas,
  • Use two to three buses on the route,
  • Include GPS-enabled buses with mobile phone applications to display schedules and bus estimated times of arrival, and
  • Have extended hours until later in the evening than the current system runs

The proposed prices for rides are:

  • $100 per semester for an individual pass,
  • $75 per semester per rider for groups up to 30 riders,
  • $62.50 per semester per rider for groups of 31-1000 riders, and
  • $50 per semester per rider for groups larger than 1000

McDavid set the one-year revenue goal at $300,000 and said he believes the new system will reduce congestion downtown and reduce car traffic.

"We want cars to be luxuries," McDavid said, "not necessities."

The mayor mentioned that the initial conversation regarding changes to city transit came about after discussions with the transit task force, community stakeholders and owners of Brookside Apartments about land use and transportation. If the new proposal goes through, Brookside has agreed to cancel its bus service, since FastCAT will serve its residents instead.

Although the FastCAT proposal was put forth on Thursday, city council members and other city officials will have to move quickly to implement the system before students return for school in the fall.