Growing Transit in Columbia
It recently opened a new station and Monday managers unveiled some additions to their fleet.
A federal grant bought two paratransit vehicles for disabled riders. The grant also bought two full service buses and more equipment.
Monday, the city unveiled those larger passenger buses. Managers hope they will provide even more convenience for commuters.
Leon Bennett rides Columbia's buses often. "We got rid of our vehicle about seven years ago so we ride bicycles and the bus," said Bennet.
Bennett came to Columbia in 1990 and says the bus system wasn't very organized then. But he says a few years later, "They got new buses and a new schedule. And the schedules were enforced well and the drivers well all happy."
Happier now, thanks to the two new additions to its fleet.
Representative Kenny Hulshof was at the ribbon cutting ceremony. He landed the more than $800 thousand grant.
"I'm encouraged by the marketing and all of the partnership with ridership going up because we have to look at mass transit," said Hulsof.
The new buses are already in service on Columbia's routes. The one on the red line services people from West to East Columbia.
Officials say ridership is up nearly 20 percent since last year, and they say more is to come.
And people like Bennett are just along for the ride.
"I think this transit system is wonderful. We're extremely happy with this place," explained Bennet.
The grant also provided money to purchase two replacement paratransit vans, bus shelters and on-board security cameras for certain buses.