Columbia city council to vote on transit changes

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COLUMBIA - Columbia's city council will meet Monday night to discuss changes to the city's bus services and fares.

If the council approves the items on the agenda that would mean bus services would end at 7 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., as well as end all services for Saturday, according to Armin Mehmedovic, a Lead Driver for Go COMO.

The fees for Paratransit would rise from $2.00 to $3.00 in an effort to recoup approximately $57,000 in annual revenue. Routes would change by making Wabash station a stop for all buses. There would also be a $300,000 cut to Go COMO’s 2019 budget. 

The Public Transit Advisory Commission has written to the council about their concerns, “Cutting service leads to decreased ridership. As citizens see that public transit service decreases, they are less likely to use it as an alternative to privately owned vehicle usage. Other citizens, for whom public transit is the only alternative, suffer by losing transportation to their jobs and other required outings.”

In the letter, the commission also provided a new option instead of cutting services. They want to shift resources to more popular routes such as the Black and Gold routes.

Adriana Mendez travels on the bus every day and hopes the council will vote down most of the proposals.

“It would really be doing a disservice to the Columbia public who gets on the bus. Saturday service, for example, is very important, in my case, to get groceries,” Mendez said.

She doesn’t own a car and uses the bus to go to work every day at the University of Missouri as a professor.

“I really think it’s important for the city to provide reasonable bus service to its citizens.”

Mehmedovic says change from hour earlier change to weekday bus services isn’t a big deal.

“I think it’s a decent idea, save money on the budget if they’re trying to do that since we really don’t have any ridership after 7 at all,” Mehmedovic said. “The 7- o’clock is almost a guarantee.” 

Both Mendez and Mehmedovic agree that going back to an old system where Wabash is the main hub for buses is a good thing. 

“A lot of people right now don’t like the system, because we’re meeting at these connection points like in the middle of places,” Mehmedovic said. “There’s no shelter. It would be a lot easier for people here where there’s shelter and they can wait inside for different buses.”