Proposed colors for new city buses spark debate

Friday, October 29, 2010 | 6:03 p.m. CDT; updated 2:10 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 30, 2010

COLUMBIA — All new buses in Columbia might be painted black and gold, but one group has concerns about the new paint job.

The Public Transportation Advisory Commission discussed the issue Thursday night, and there were mixed feelings about changing the colors of the new buses.

Mayor Bob McDavid asked at the Oct. 18 City Council meeting that all new buses be painted black and gold, showing support for MU. There was no discussion about the motion before the rest of the council voted to approve it, and the council didn't ask for input from the advisory commission.

Transportation commissioner Pat Fowler, however, is uncomfortable with the idea.

“We could be opening a rift that already exists in the community — that may be calm right now — that everything is about the university,” Fowler said. “I value our students, I value the university, but I live here, and I care about the kids that live in our central-city neighborhoods and how they perceive that they are valued."

Jim Joy, director of parking and transportation for MU, spoke in favor of black-and-gold buses. He noted that city buses now are the colors of MU's rival.

“Evidently the conversation that I’m overhearing — and I’ve been told has been going on for years — is it’s really strange that the city of Columbia’s transit buses, so public when the university is such a major player economically to this community, (are)  painted the same color as KU’s school colors: Blue,” Joy said.

McDavid agrees.

“When you choose the colors of the University of Kansas you’re leaving out a very large part of the community,” McDavid said.

The advisory commission approved a motion asking that it be involved in looking at design options.

There would be no extra cost for making new buses black and gold. New buses won't hit the streets until 2011.

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