Getting around Columbia, the easier way

Whether you go by car, bike or bus, there are a few tips you should know to help your travels go more smoothly.
Monday, July 28, 2008 | 4:07 p.m. CDT
Robert Johnson, a GetAbout Columbia bike route guide, points out the different bike routes to take around the city. These routes can make biking easier for people who are willing to ride to different parts of town.


If you decide to use your car in Columbia, you have to figure out parking options. MU students have the option of purchasing a permit or using metered parking spaces.

MU parking permits are dispersed according to class standing and the date at which the application was submitted. You can submit your application online at

Since upperclassmen are given priority when it comes to parking, incoming freshmen and transfer students are most likely to be given hangtag permits for the commuter parking lots. With a commuter permit, you may park in the Hearnes, Trowbridge or Reactor commuter lots. Commuter permits cost $60 per semester. If you purchase a commuter permit, Parking and Transportation Services provides you a map with the locations of each commuter lot and the shuttle routes.

Shuttle service is available from the Reactor lot from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Hearnes and Trowbridge lots have the same hours and also offer evening shuttles that run until 1 a.m. Shuttles arrive approximately every 10 to 15 minutes. If you have early morning classes, plan on arriving at least 10 minutes before your shuttle departure time because of the high volume of shuttle users.

Parking meters are available for short-term parking on campus. The Hitt Street, Turner Avenue and University Avenue garages have parking meters. Meters cost $0.70 per 75 minutes.

In the Hitt Street garage, on levels four through six, you may either pay for the meters with cash or by charging your student account by swiping your student ID card.

Always keep in mind that the MU parking lots are patrolled frequently. Your car will be ticketed or towed if you fail to follow parking regulations. Therefore, make sure you follow the signs closely in parking areas and park only in the lots designated on your parking hangtag. Always keep your parking hangtag hanging from your rearview mirror. Finally, do not let your parking meter run out of time, or you'll run the risk of getting a ticket.

Riding a bike

If you are looking for some exercise and an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, try riding your bike around Columbia. Several aspects of Columbia make it appealing for cycling.

Bike corrals are located in front of most buildings at MU. All Columbia Transit buses have bike racks. Currently, the city is working on attracting bike riders downtown. Columbia has plans to install 1,000 bicycle spaces throughout downtown and recently installed a bike corral at Cherry and Ninth streets. The MKT Trail, Bear Creek Trail and Hinkson Creek Trail, all located in Columbia, are great for bicycling, jogging and walking. Each location features 10-foot wide trails and several access points throughout town. These trails are open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

While Columbia continues to make the city more accessible for bicyclists, there are still some areas that need improvement. For instance, the intersection of Vandiver Drive and Range Line Street has been considered the most dangerous in the city. Stadium Drive near the Columbia Mall is another area that can be dangerous for bicyclists.

For more information about bike-riding in Columbia, go to, which has a helpful bike map that ranks the safety of Columbia's roads and intersections.

Public transport

Columbia Transit is another option for getting around Columbia. College students receive price breaks for bus fares. One-way fares for students are $.25. Columbia Transit also offers FASTPasses, which may be purchased at the Wabash Station, 126 N. Tenth St. For students, a 7-day FASTPass is $2.50, a 25-ride FASTPass is $5, and a 30-day unlimited FASTPass is $10.

Many apartment complexes located near MU have bus stops. Throughout Columbia, bus stops are designated with blue bus stop signs.

Buses operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Buses do not run on Sunday.

Going out of town

Want to get out of town but don't have a car or the ability to pay incredibly high gas prices? You should consider Megabus.

Megabus was created in 2006 and offers nonstop service from Columbia to Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago on double-decker buses. Prices vary depending on the destination and how far in advance tickets are purchased. Fares begin at $1.

Columbia passengers catch the Megabus at the Wabash Station at 126 N. Tenth St. Passengers travelling to Kansas City arrive at the downtown MetroCenter, at Third and Grand avenues. Those bound for St. Louis arrive at the St. Louis Union Station, 1820 Market St. The trip to Chicago lasts just more than eight hours, and passengers arrive at the Chicago Union Station on Canal Street.

Megabus passengers are allowed to bring one standard size suitcase and one carry-on bag. Megabus does not offer refunds once a reservation is made. However, passengers can reschedule their reservations at least 24 hours before their departure time for a $1 fee. To reserve a seat, go to



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