Columbia Transit unlikely to extend service to new high school

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | 1:55 p.m. CDT; updated 9:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 29, 2008

COLUMBIA — Columbia Transit has not addressed extending service to include Columbia's new comprehensive public high school, according to Columbia Public Works spokeswoman Jill Stedem.

"We don't run service to the schools now, but they run in the general area," Stedem said. She said expanding routes to include the new school has not been addressed yet and was unsure when it would be addressed, if at all. Stedem indicated new routes have not been added recently because there isn't enough money in the city's budget.

Columbia Transit was $100,000 over budget during the 2008 fiscal year because of fuel costs, which has limited expanding service and halted the master plan, according to Stedem. Nothing included in the master plan after January 2008 has been addressed. While Saturday bus services have changed and runs to the Columbia Mall are now hourly, the addition of five drivers, an information specialist and a modified schedule with new peak hours has failed to happen. The Dial-A-Ride Program and the start of Phase II master plan work, including four new buses and a transfer bus station, also have not started.

Fairview Elementary School parent Janet Godon raised questions at Tuesday's community forum of the secondary enrollment planning committee. Godon said including bike lanes and sidewalks for walking to school are important to her. Public bus service to the school would allow students to ride home after athletic practices and other after-school meetings, she said, and would decrease parents' commutes to school and traffic in the area.

A desire for bike lanes and fewer car trips reflects Columbia initiatives such as the walking school bus and the Safe Routes to School programs. The walking school bus encourages elementary students to walk with a volunteer to school to avoid traffic and transportation issues. The Safe Routes Non-Infrastructure grants will provide walking and biking arrangements for kindergarten through eighth grade students, according to Missourian archives. Both initiatives aim to improve safety and reduce traffic around schools.

The new high school will be located in the St. Charles Road Development site north of St. Charles Road, east of the Lake of the Woods golf course and west of Route Z.

The final two community forums are from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Gentry Middle School's media center and Thursday at Lange Middle School's media center.

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