Columbia Transit Launches FastCAT with Eye on Student Riders

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Transit launched the FastCAT bus route Monday--one week before classes at Mizzou resume for the fall. The route runs from downtown Columbia to the MU campus. The system is hoping to entice riders with free fares through August 24. 

Columbia Transportation Supervisor Drew Brooks said the goal of the FastCAT route is to get more student riders and to improve the public transit system. The route goes right through the heart of downtown Columbia, and makes stops at University of Missouri residence halls and Greek Town. The department will also launch a GPS mobile app that will allow riders to check the time and location of bus arrivals. 

Brooks said the mobile app was supposed to be ready for the start of the route Monday,  but technical problems with cell carriers delayed its activation until the end of the week. Brook said the GPS app will also help the city evaluate how riders are using the route.

"Once we get the GPS units up we will be analyzing that data a lot more detailed than we ever have before," said Brooks. "Looking at all of the different stops where we're picking people up, evaluating each stop and the time that we're picking people up there. So this will be under more scrutiny than any other route we've ever had." 

Brooks said the department is looking into getting more student ridership through off-campus housing. Already, Brookside Townhomes Apartments has signed a contract with the department that gives all of its residents semester bus passes. The transit department also offers a discount on passes for groups of 20 or more, which brings the semester pass down from $100 to $62.50. 

The transit department will send monthly updates to the Columbia City Council to evaluate how effective the FastCAT route is.