Expanded Bus System Would Improve Community Health
COLUMBIA - The Columbia/Boone County Health Department is working to bring Health Impact Assessments, or HIAs, to Columbia. HIAs analyze and research a policy before implementation to make sure it will be effective. The department is currently assessing how expanding the public transportation system would improve overall community health.
Rachel Young is the communications coordinator for the project and says this is the first aspect of the community it is assessing.
"People are very interested in transit here in Columbia and how transit can be improved and what kind of transit system we want that will best represent the community," Young said.
Expanding the bus system would give residents more access to places around Columbia, places for work, grocery shopping, retail and recreation to name a few. The health determinants then from this increased access include:
- Employment and job security
- Income and employee benefits
- Health care access
- Educational access
- Access to financial institutions
- Physical activity
- Access to child care
Jason Wilcox is the coordinator for this Health Impact Assessment. He said more buses would allow residents to access goods and services they can't access right now.
"It means more access for everyone, so if there is an expanded bus system, they're able to get to work, that work could possibly offer health insurance that would then get them greater access to health care," Wilcox said.
Ezera Hutchinson is a Columbia resident and a student at the University of Missouri. He rides the bus five to six times a week, mainly from school to his apartment on the north side of town. Hutchinson said an expanded bus system would help not only him, but also his family.
"I have a son and we would like to take him to more parks but we've noticed they don't go by many parks so I think that would be nice," he said.
He also believes more buses would help make routes quicker and reduce ridership time.
The Health Department hopes to wrap up its research by November and the final report on the assessment is expected to come out by the end of the year.