Group Proposes MU Student Fee to Aid City Transit Woes
COLUMBIA - University of Missouri Crosby MBA students met with Columbia City Council transportation advisors Thursday evening to suggest possible solutions to the city bus system's financial woes.
The students spoke at the Public Transportation Advisory Commission meeting at city hall. They presented their findings on behalf of the Transit System Task Force, a group that works with local colleges to "develop a [transit] model that will provide a substantial increase in service to student customers and be financially sustainable."
The students proposed ways to eliminate the $1.4 million city transit deficit that could result in the closing of popular bus routes. Two of those possible bus route closures, the Black and Gold Routes, primarily serve MU students living in South Columbia apartment complexes.
The proposal - referred to as an "unbiased" look at transit finances by task force member Carlos Alvarado - suggested three core changes:
1. Charge a $50 student fee per year for all MU students, including those who may not necessarily use public transit.
2. Renegotiate the city's shuttle contract.
3. Renegotiate the Black and Gold route contracts, as the cost of running the routes currently exceeds the amount of money made off the routes.
Presenter Michael Schultz said that an annual $50 student-wide fee would generate $1.7 million in revenue every year. He said based on the fact that the Black and Gold routes are used mostly by students, a student fee could be feasible.
"It's not the most popular idea or the best idea, but because there's so many students using those routes, it's a definite possibility."
Members of the Public Transportation Advisory Commission had mixed reactions to the proposed student fee. One member questioned why other local schools, such as Columbia College, were left out of the proposal.
Commisssion member Alyce Turner supported the idea of a student-wide fee, while fellow board member Norman Lampton opposed the proposal, claiming it would be "impossible" to institute such a fee.