MU students present hypothetical public transportation proposal

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COLUMBIA -MU engineering students say a transportation plan they've worked on would make mass transit easier for students.

The U-Pass system, which is hypothetical, was presented at City Hall in Columbia on Monday.

The system would allow MU students to ride Columbia Public Transit for a reduced fee.  

"A U-Pass program would basically provide students with unlimited access to all bus routes within Columbia, Missouri, with expanded services based on student feedback," said project manager Malik McMillon. 

He said the U-Pass program would be implemented for all MU students for the winter and spring semesters and all revenue would go back into improving bus services for students. 

Council member Ian Thomas worked as a "client" for the proposal. He said he wanted to further explore an idea that's been around a long time.

"There have been conversations about this for a number of years and I think that the conversations are growing and growing and I think this student project really backs that up," he said. 

The group studied a similar system at the University of Kansas.

"The student ridership numbers when they first introduced the system just kept going up and up every year and so they kept increasing the fee and providing a better service and it continued to go up and up," Thomas said.

Student Aliyah Wells predicted a similar outcome in Columbia. 

"We expect that the ridership will be increased by about 25% in five years, that's about a 5% increase each year," Wells said. 

She said the ridership increase would allow for the university to apply for more federal funding. The group also found 38% of students they surveyed would opt-out of campus parking if the U-Pass was implemented. 

The group found MU handed out 60,000 parking citations last year. 

Students can currently purchase a GOCOMO bus pass for $100 a semester.The hypothetical U-Pass program would cost students and faculty $82.50 a year.

According to the University's website, MU estimates $3,480 in transportation fees for Missouri resident undergraduate students.