LAKE OF THE OZARKS — The director of Columbia's Public Works Department has proposed a series of route changes, extensions and additions to Columbia's transit system.
Public Works Director John Glascock presented the proposed changes during the Saturday morning session at the Columbia City Council's annual retreat. Saturday was the final day of the retreat that began Thursday evening.
Funding for the plan would have to be approved by the council. The plan includes adding service to Forum Boulevard and to LeMone Industrial Boulevard, the site of the new IBM service delivery center. Changing the Saturday schedule to mirror the weekday schedule is another aspect.
“We’re trying to serve more of Columbia,” Glascock said.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said people have been unable to pursue jobs on LeMone Industrial Boulevard because they don’t have the transportation to get there. The expansion of one route would also service Lenoir Road and the Lenoir Retirement Community, which wants buses, Hoppe said.
Another route would also be expanded to serve Boone Hospital, all university and downtown parking garages and Paquin Tower.
Mayor Bob McDavid asked if the changes to the bus system would increase students' access to MU, but Glascock said the proposal was focused on giving residents better access to jobs.
Glascock said the expansion would cost $67,000 but the cost could be offset by increases in advertising revenue potentially exceeding $60,000.
City Manager Bill Watkins said the $67,000 price tag would be covered by adding new riders. $67,000 is only a few hundred additional riders a day, Watkins said.
"I believe with better service, maybe not the first year but in a year or two, we'll get there," Watkins said.
Glascock said he hopes to complete the changes by the time classes start in the fall.
There will be additional costs to changing the routes, Watkins said. Bus shelters and benches will have to be moved to match the new routes.
"We will need a massive education campaign in the next couple months," Watkins said.
Watkins said subsidies for the bus system come from the same source as those for street capital improvements and the Columbia Regional Airport. He said the city would be able to make that money back by investing in the bus system in the long term.
“I think it's a very good plan,” Watkins said.