Columbia Farmers Market to Have Transit in Summer

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COLUMBIA - Citizens living in the downtown area will soon have a bus service on Saturday morning to the Columbia Farmers Market for fresh food. 

The service will run from May 25 through October 26. The map shows the areas that the bus would pass through, which the USDA designated as "food desert" areas in Columbia. The service still awaits the city council's approval on May 20 before putting it into operation.

The market manager, Corrina Smith, said this is the second summer the bus will run. The city will require a new contract if additional service is requested for subsequent years. This year, the market should pay the city $4,995.66 for the projected total cost.

Smith said the current grant would not cover service for another year unless they seek a new source of funding.

"Currently the grant that we got from the USDA through the Farmers Market Promotion program is a two-year grant. So we don't have funding after this year. We have to base upon how successful it was, and see if we can find, you know, income for it," Smith said.

The route would run at a 30-minute cycle, departuring at 8:15 a.m. every Saturday from the Activity and Recreation Center. Homemaker Elizabeth Morgan thought the bus should run at a shorter time period. Still, Morgan needs to transfer two buses if she wants to take the farmers market shuttle.

"If buses run every 20 minutes or 15 minutes, you can transfer quicker. You know, it will be an effective mode of transportation that you get to the farmers market, or get to work. But right now, it's not," Morgan said.

Morgan also said the service time might overlap the time of low-income people who have a work schedule at retail stores on Saturday.