Columbia to start enforcing bus lane ordinance

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public Works department was supposed to meet with a private bus company Friday to talk about restricted access to the pull-in lanes on Rollins. But, Drew Brooks, Columbia's multi-modal manager, said there was a miscommunication between the two and the meeting did not happen.

At the meeting Brooks was supposed to meet with Doug Dickherber, the owner of Greenway Shuttles, to talk about the 2012 city ordinance that created traffic restrictions on the University of Missouri campus and a variety of other streets. The ordinance was to restrict access on Rollins Street to only city buses, university buses or delivery vehicles.

In 2012, the council decided not to enforce the new rule because only two buses were added to the area. This coming school year, the rule will be enforced so the city can increase the number and frequency of buses that will be using the pull-in lanes. Brooks said the city is trying to improve the safety situation around the area because of the high volume of traffic on campus.

Although Rollins is a city street, there are many other streets that have ordinances restricting traffic and parking. The newly enforced rule will take effect the first day of school which is August 25. Dickherber said he isn't looking forward to the restrictions his company is going to face.

"You'll have to be standing out in the weather," Dickherber said. "So my students I bring in, which is about 5,000 a day, they're going to have to not sit inside Brady Commons where it's nice and they have restaurants. They're going to have to go out and sit because my buses don't stand on campus. They literally drop off, load up and then they go."

Brooks said he is working with the university to create additional bus stops for all the private carriers that bring students to and from campus. The bus stops they will use are going to be within a block of the pull-in lanes the university and city uses. The proposed stops will be on Missouri Avenue and on Hitt Street.

Although private carriers will be told not to use the lanes on Rollins once school starts, Brooks said he doesn't think this will persuade students to use the city or university buses over the private carriers they might already use.

"Those students would have to buy a pass to ride on our system," Brooks said. "My assumption is that on those private shuttles, that is part of their rent, or they don't have to pay any type of fare to ride on the buses. So I don't see it as any incentive for them to ride our system if they essentially have a free shuttle they can ride and still get within a block of the student center."

Brooks said the intent is not to restrict the private shuttles from accessing campus.

"The intent is to give a safe and free path through Rollins for the city buses and the Tiger Line Shuttle," Brooks said.

The public works department is discussing with the university, options for covered shelters so students will not have to wait outside for private carriers.

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