Columbia Transit adds more buses for students

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | 7:48 p.m. CDT; updated 7:12 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 18, 2008
MU students crowd a bus bound for campus Friday morning. Freshmen Swanay Henderson, front, and Nathan Torre, center, are both spending their freshman year living in Campus Lodge apartments instead of MU residence halls. Overcrowded buses are one of the repercussions of MU's 2008 record freshmen enrollment totals.

COLUMBIA — The brakes hiss as the big blue Columbia Transit bus rolls to a stop in front of Campus Lodge apartments. Crowds of MU students push each other to climb up the bus steps, vying for a good seat before the bus pulls away to campus.

"Sometimes I can't even sit. We're all just packed in standing, trying to crowd all of our stuff in too," MU freshman Angel Rivera said while on her way to visit friends at Campus Lodge. She said some freshmen have been catching the bus more than 40 minutes before their classes start so they can be sure to get aboard.

The record number of freshmen this year has led to some freshmen being housed off-campus at Campus View and Campus Lodge apartments. That, in turn, has led to the overcrowding of the transit buses some of those students use to get to campus.

According to Columbia Transit spokeswoman Jill Stedem, two buses have run the Gold Route in recent years. The route runs down Old 63 to The Reserve and Campus Lodge, down Grindstone Parkway, Nifong Boulevard and Green Meadows Road to Campus View, then back to Brady Commons at MU. The bus runs every 20 minutes when classes are in session, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Stedem said.

But this year, with the surge in numbers, Columbia Transit quickly added two more buses in each direction and a third one during peak times, from 7 to 9:30 a.m.

"We've been super pleased with the city's response. Within two days, three units were added and they're continuing to monitor the transportation system," said Jim Joy, director of MU Parking and Transportation Services.

Joy said a new bus can cost up to $100,000 and usually takes more than a year to receive. The transit system has also added a new route to the Cottages at Nifong Boulevard and Bearfield Road.

Columbia Transit and MU have a contract that allows students reduced pricing when riding from the parking lots to campus and Brady Commons. MU pays Columbia Transit through a transportation fee charged to the students. The fee accounts for 90 percent of the transportation cost. MU Parking and Transportation picks up the other 10 percent.

With more students riding this year, the cost of campus transportation has risen. The question of who should pick up the tab was quickly answered by MU Residential Life and MU Parking and Transportation, which split the cost.

Students may ride the transit system from their apartments to campus for 25 cents with a student ID. Some apartment complexes, such as the Reserve and Campus Lodge, are free with apartment IDs. Their travel fees are included in their rent.

Stedem said Columbia Transit noticed the Gold Route was full from 7 to 9:30 a.m., but then leveled off in the afternoon. Stedem said students never had to wait for more than 10 minutes for a bus. "We've been able to accommodate most students on most routes," she said.

Columbia Transit provides three other bus services for students.

The first is a day-commuter service from the Reactor, Trowbridge and Hearnes Center parking lots. It runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The second is a night safety route that runs from downtown Broadway to the residence halls and Greektown that goes from 6 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. The third service is a disability transport system that is arranged by contacting Columbia Transit.

Joy says the overcrowding has "forced people to look more closely at transit. It works well if it is frequent, convenient, goes where you want, and when it's the only option that exists."



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Leroy Jenkems September 18, 2008 | 1:58 p.m.

The only bus route that's ever full

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 18, 2008 | 3:19 p.m.

The college should be taking better care of their students. MU could run their own perimeter shuttle service. Why should this select group put a strain on city managed bus service for this transient population. The city could also be more effecient by running smaller buses when ridership is sparse. If the students don't like being treated like cattle, they can stop eating in the campus "mess halls," bicycle to class, car pool or transfer to a smaller, more user-friendly college. There are also a lot of homes that are now up for rent. Students can opt to live 15 minutes away from campus in "group" homes and have a better commute. It shouldn;t always be the city's job to make the students' education in Columbia an enjoyable, easy experience. MU needs to do more.

(Report Comment)
Tanner Tucker September 18, 2008 | 8:21 p.m.

The answer to all the problems:
Light Rail

Also, why is there no advertising on city busses? That would help take care of some of the operating costs, maybe end up paying for a new bus or two.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 19, 2008 | 5:09 a.m.

ray shapiro I totally agree with you on all you present.

I have to lol @ light rail the city cannot even afford it's own yearly budget or is on the edge of not being able to do so and you suggest something that is far beyond their future oh the city did not get their grants to replace their ailing buses they have either.

(Report Comment)
Leroy Jenkems September 19, 2008 | 7:25 a.m.

MU's job isn't to provide transportation. That's the city's job, which MU has had to assume because the city dropped the ball, as usual.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 19, 2008 | 8:29 a.m.

Light rail, for a smaller city, is a huge money bleed. It hardly pays for itself in big ones with lots of downtown concentration.

Buses are more versatile, in that they can use surface roads, and change their routes as needed without laying more track.


(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken September 19, 2008 | 10:15 a.m.

I do believe that the students are footing the bill for the campus buses, not the city.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 19, 2008 | 1:25 p.m.

Leroy--It's not the city's "job" or MU's "job" to get the students to class. It's the students' "job!"

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken September 19, 2008 | 10:21 p.m.

What are you talking about?
The buses on campus are paid for by the students to help get them from the parking lots, which they also pay for, to campus. The ones coming from Campus View were put in place because MU over-enrolled for their capacity so now students, who would normally live on campus and not need a ride, have to have a ride to get to class. So yes, I do believe it is MUs job to bus those students to class. A bus system, which they already pay for in their yearly tuition.
That's like saying we should take away the city bus system from paying citizens because it's their job to find their way to work on their own.
We're doing our jobs trying to get to campus. Why do you want to take our buses away?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 20, 2008 | 5:02 a.m.

Amber Hanneken probably because the University receives millions if not more in donations and contributions each year not only from the Feds and the State but from local organizations as well plus student tuitions so it makes sense anyway in the future for the University to begin to look at their own bus system to make themselves more independent since the City of Columbia this last round of setting up the City Budget for 2009 had a few burps,hiccups,farts,belches and belly aching it went through. Now if some smart student there would do or start a case study as a class project on the feasibility of the University acquiring and maintaining their own bus line that would probably show just what ray is talking about or disprove what he is talking about and that student or group of students just might be able to do it for a grade as well.

(Report Comment)

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