COMO Connect seeks input on public transit

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COLUMBIA - COMO Connect will hold an open house and several bus stop meetings on Thursday to gain public opinion on transit improvements.

COMO Connect has spent more than a year working with Olsson Associates, an engineering consultant group, looking at the current bus system. Their efforts have culminated in developing different types of routing the city might use in the next year.

"The intent of these meetings is to get the public input on those alternatives and kind of see what our riders and the customers think of these types of systems," said Transit and Parking Manager Drew Brooks.

The biggest things people have suggested to COMO Connect in the past are more frequent service and more consistent scheduling, and Brooks hopes these new routes will solve those issues.

Two main alternatives are going to be presented at the meetings Thursday.

Alternative A, or "COMO Connect Lite," would keep some of the same routes already in place but would reduce service to outlying areas by removing fixed routes and adding "flex zone" routing instead.

Flex zone routes use scheduled rides, which customers would submit the day before. The bus would pick them up at their place of residence and drop them off at one of the scheduled stops along a fixed route.

"It wouldn't be like a taxi type ride, door-to-door, but it would get them into the rest of the system so they can use the fixed route system on a regular basis," Brooks said. The city doesn't currently operate any flex routes.

Alternative B would use flex routing along with repositioning routes into straight line routes. Currently, many routes are one directional loops. With option B, buses would drive back and forth along certain paths so there would be bus stops on both sides of the road.

This is the first time COMO Connect will reach out for input on these new alternatives, and it wanted to make sure its presentations reached as many people as possible. Because of that, the meetings will be held throughout the day at a variety of bus shelters across the city.

"We wanted to see if we could figure out different ways to actually go to people rather than have them come to us," Brooks said.

The meeting schedule is as follows:

  • 8 to 9:20 a.m. at the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department (1005 W. Worley)
  • 8:15 to 9:45 a.m. at The Resource Center (1500 Vandiver Drive)
  • 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the MU Student Center (911 E. Rollins Street)
  • 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. at the Hy-Vee Trimble Road bus shelter (25 Conley Road)
  • 3 to 4 p.m. at the Daniel Boone Regional Public Library (100 W. Broadway)
  • 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. at the Walmart Park De Ville Road bus shelter (3001 W. Broadway)
  • 6 to 8 p.m. open house at City Hall, Conference Room 1A

"We chose bus stops that were some of our more frequently used bus stops and tried to schedule those at times when we think we'll catch the most amount of people," Brooks said.

The meetings won't have a formal presentation, so people can come and go during the time slots as they please. City and Olsson staff will be available with information on the alternatives and surveys for people's opinions on the possible routes.

After the meetings, COMO Connect will take its findings to the city council, so members can vote on whether or not to try the alternative routes.