COLUMBIA — During Monday night's public transit work session, Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes shared possible changes to city bus services. Matthes' proposed city budget for fiscal year 2012 will increase all bus fares by 50 to 67 percent, eliminate half fares not required by federal law and reduce services by cutting shuttles to MU football games, eliminating evening routes Thursday through Saturday and shortening three bus routes.
The Missourian talked to riders at the city bus station and at MU on Tuesday morning to find out how the proposed changes would affect their bus riding routines.
"I just started, and I've already had problems," said daily rider Mitch Thaemert, a junior at MU. "There are no routes to my apartment at night already. If I get stuck here late at night, I'll have to find a ride."
Mark Fuemmeler, who rides the bus three to four times a week, disagrees with the new proposal. “It’s unfair to disabled people like myself and to a lot of the college students that have come back. I believe they should keep things as they are. They raised the parking meter rates, and they want to cut the city transit systems.”
Daily rider Ahmed Raja, an MU freshman, uses a pass provided by his apartment complex but said the proposed price increase will hurt students. "It adds up for students after nine months of paying," Raja said.
Bill Stewart, who uses Columbia Transit two to three days a week to go to the grocery store, said he wouldn’t be affected by the new proposal “if that’s all they do” because he doesn’t usually ride the bus in the evenings or to football games.
"I don't know how they'd reduce it further," said Cody Mason, an MU sophomore and daily rider, about the proposed cuts to evening routes. He said the changes will increase his cost of living and reduce his travel on the weekends.
Simone Hughley is a freshman at Moberly Area Community College who rides the bus daily. She said she thinks the proposal will hurt Columbia in the long run. “People are already limited to where they can go. They need to do better about making routes, especially on the south side; there’s not much out there.” Hughley uses the bus to go to work in the late afternoon but has to ride her bike home because the buses don’t run when she gets off work. Her bike ride home usually takes her about 45 minutes to an hour.
Tamara Jones, a senior at MU and daily rider, predicts problems with students leaving campus at night. "I think they need to have the shuttle. It makes it more convenient," Jones said.
Gary Word, who rides the bus daily, said, “If you raise the fares, the buses should go all around here. They need more buses.”
Yoojin Choi, a junior at MU, said increasing the fare prices wouldn't change her ridership because she doesn’t have any other choice but to ride the bus. “I am an international student, so I don’t have a car or a driver’s license, and I have no other opportunity for other transportation.”
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