COLUMBIA — After three weeks, an influx of students is putting new bus schedule and route changes to the test.
Columbia Transit changed bus routes on Aug. 2 to accommodate more passengers and an expanded coverage area. Some changes include adding stops at places of mass employment such as IBM, Frito-Lay and Kraft, along with new routes in areas such as Smiley Lane in north Columbia.
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The problem of maintaining the bus service's time schedule sparked the idea of reforming routes, Drew Brooks, transportation supervisor for Columbia Transit, said. Getting residents to the large employers followed.
Columbia Transit was able to utilize newly created streets to reach neighborhoods it previously could not in a 40-minute ride.
“We’ve had to make a few minor tweaks along the way,” Brooks said. Although, he added, the process has gone “much smoother than expected.”
The expanded services will cost the bus service roughly $67,000 each year, according to a previous Missourian article. Advertising revenue will cover more than $60,000 of the cost.
It's too soon, Brooks said, to determine the financial impact of the changes.
“It’s hard to tell because we operate on a 12 month fiscal year, so we won’t know until about this time next year,” Brooks said.
Bus patrons such as Kathryn Cook, a sophomore at MU, are already seeing the benefits of the expanded service. Cook rides the improved Gold Route to campus everyday from her apartment at The Reserve on Old 63.
Cook looks forward to her daily bus ride because it means less money spent on filling her car's gas tank.
Students can ride the Gold Route to and from campus for free after 5:30 p.m. thanks to an arrangement between Columbia Transit and MU.
Not all feedback from the improved routes has been positive, though. MU junior Angie Pagán experienced some rides where there were too many potential passengers.
Pagán had been barred from the bus because of overcrowding.
“They said, ‘you’ll just have to wait for the next one and that’s how it goes,’” Pagán said.