COLUMBIA - A transit task force led by Mayor Bob McDavid is working toward quadrupling ridership in coming years. McDavid, along with student leaders from the University of Missouri, Stephens College, and Columbia College, plan to start a student transit service with forty new buses and new routes.
The Mayor said that an $80 or $100 fee per semester could be put on students to use the transit service. This would allow them unlimited rides to places throughout campus, downtown, and other areas of the city.
McDavid and other city officials say that Columbia's student transit service is far behind that of college towns. McDavid mentioned Ames, IA and Champagne, IL as models for what the Columbia schools can do. Ames currently has 73 buses committed to student transit, while Columbia has 40; Ames only has ten routes, while Columbia already carries thirteen. McDavid said, "It's there. The model is mature, it works in most university communities. I think it would work here."
Eric Woods, Missouri Student Assocation president, said that he is all for increasing student transit services, but a marketing plan is necessary to first increase ridership. Woods also said that he is not sold on increasing a rate for students, as not all off-campus students use the transit service. "I'm very reluctant to say that we support that, because we have to do what's best for our students." Woods is also concerned about current problems in the transit system, "It just seems like people aren't riding. It's ahrd to sustain a system like this when you don't have ridership."