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Columbia bus riders react to proposed transit changes

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | 3:06 p.m. CDT; updated 6:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 6, 2011

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.

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"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.”

We'd love to hear your reactions as well. Please comment below, or email us at news@ColumbiaMissourian.com.



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Comments

Ray Shapiro August 23, 2011 | 4:24 p.m.

Columbia is relatively a small town of 75,000 residents which grows by an additional 33,000 when college is in session. Expecting extensive route coverage and 24/7 service is not realistic.
Transportation is a personal responsibility. People should always have a Plan B when they depend on bus service in a small town where city developers focused on building inexpensive homes with two car garages in subdevelopments on dead end streets.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum August 26, 2011 | 11:07 a.m.

@Ray

Don't know where you invented your numbers from -- Columbia has over 108,000 residents, not including students. That's according to the US Census, it's probably gone up at least another couple of thousand, considering we grew in population by over 24% over the last decade. Stevens has about 1,000 students, MU has 33,300, MACC has over 1,000 (most of which are admittedly permanent residents), and Columbia College has over 1,000 students as well. Please don't muddy up the conversation with ignorance...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 26, 2011 | 11:36 a.m.

The Census figure includes students because they're supposed to complete the form based on where they live most of the year, not where their parents live. Of course, there's still the question of how many students and parents follow that rule.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum August 26, 2011 | 11:49 a.m.

Columbia has over 100,000 permanent residents, easily... Our population has been over Ray's figure since the mid 90s...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 26, 2011 | 12:28 p.m.

"Columbia has over 100,000 permanent residents, easily."

Right. And of the current ~108K, ~35K are students.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 26, 2011 | 1:27 p.m.

Jimmy, I don't think that is correct. Most of the students are not counted as residents in the census since this is not considered their home if I remember past media stories correctly. Might have to do a little digging, but it won't be until tonight.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 26, 2011 | 1:47 p.m.

From the 2010 "Census on Campus" guide:

Q. Can my parents just include me on their census questionnaire?
A. If you’re not living with your parents during the school year, then no, they should not include you on their census questionnaire. The Census Bureau conducts counts of people where they live and sleep most of the year. Parents should leave students off of their forms, even if they will return to live at home after they leave college. Otherwise, they may be counted twice.

From the "2010 Census Questionnaire Reference Book":

For Parents of Students:
Do NOT include on your census form:
•College students if they do NOT live and sleep most of the time at the parental home—even if they return to the parental home while on break or vacation.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum August 26, 2011 | 5:07 p.m.

Some people hate being wrong. I happen to work in demographics. Jimmy, you are incorrect and that's basically all there is to it.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 26, 2011 | 5:34 p.m.

Only a small portion of the 108,000 are students and only a small portion of the students are Boone County residents. I would think that if you have a local address on your driver's license or if you vote in local elections then you are local. Otherwise you are not local. Most of the students are not local.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 26, 2011 | 8:48 p.m.

Louis, I provided two examples from Census documents. Here are a few more examples from other sources:

From http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/00... "According to census procedures, students must be counted where they attend college."

From www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail... "Most college students should be counted at their college address, either on campus or off campus. They should be counted at their parents' home only if they live and sleep there most of the year."

From www.black-collegian.com/news/special-rep... "Students living away from home will be counted where they are living in college."

If I'm wrong, prove it.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 29, 2011 | 1:57 p.m.

Jimmy, I just got a chance to log on and wanted to share the following article which addresses the manner in which college students should be counted:
"The U.S. Census Bureau has designated them as a "hard-to-count group," and communities like Columbia must make an extra effort — often a colossal effort — to make sure students fill out their forms."
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 29, 2011 | 3:36 p.m.

Ray, that article supports the three points that I've been making in this thread:

1) Students are supposed to complete the Census based on where they live.

2) Not all students are aware of 1).

3) The Census figure includes students but might be inaccurate because of 2).

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 29, 2011 | 3:57 p.m.

Jimmy, Agreed. However, who's to say how accurate or inaccurate Columbia's census turns out to be.
Considering the city annexes to grow and builds duplexes North of Smiley, out by Clark Lane, throughout Scott Blvd, etc, I still contend that a good "estimate" is that 75,000 plus 33,000 equals 108,000. Until the demographic demi-gods can come up with more accurate figures, I'll stand by my perception of Columbia as having less than 80,000 inhabitants during the summer months when students visit their parents.
Also, many of these students leave after 4 years of residency. Therefore they do rely on the cars they bring courtesy of their parents while a smaller group use bus service or share rides with more fortunate students.
I can't see how we're going to get more college students to use buses if we don't get their parents involved in withholding cars and credit cards.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 29, 2011 | 4:14 p.m.

"I still contend that a good 'estimate' is that 75,000 plus 33,000 equals 108,000. Until the demographic demi-gods can come up with more accurate figures, I'll stand by my perception of Columbia as having less than 80,000 inhabitants during the summer months when students visit their parents."

Maybe so, but those 33K are here eight to nine months out of the year, and the city has to size its road, sewer, bus and other infrastructure based on 108K rather than 75K.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 29, 2011 | 4:23 p.m.

I believe the number is higher because many of the students report that they live at home or don't report at all, regardless of what they are "supposed to" do.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 29, 2011 | 4:43 p.m.

According to an article in this newspaper not long ago, the "33,000" portion may in the near future "max out." The MU chancellor was quoted as saying MU might be able to handle "35,000" but possibly no more than that. Whether his estimate was based on a serious study of available facilities or was simply off-the-cuff isn't known.

Should that actually happen, future growth in Columbia would be based mainly on growth of the permanent, year round community.

Capped enrollment already exists at one UM System campus. Having authorized it once, I doubt the Curators would have much difficulty approving it at another campus.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum August 29, 2011 | 4:45 p.m.

If you've ever gone to Mizzou, you know a vast majority of these people claim an allegiance to whatever suburb of STL (or to a lesser extent KC) they come from. They flee immediately back to their hometowns as soon as it's possible -- these people are not filling out census forms, and in the rare event that they are, they aren't claiming Columbia. You're just wrong...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 29, 2011 | 4:52 p.m.

Again, Louis:

1) If I'm wrong, prove it.

2) Even when "they flee immediately back to their hometowns as soon as it's possible," they're still have to be here eight to nine months out of the year. The city's infrastructure has to be able to accommodate that load. This isn't some tourist town where the population spikes for three months. Just the opposite.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum August 29, 2011 | 4:53 p.m.

I'm not arguing with you; I think that Columbia has over 100K residents 365 days a year...

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 31, 2011 | 12:16 p.m.

"I'm not arguing with you"

But you said, "Jimmy, you are incorrect and that's basically all there is to it."

So how am I incorrect?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire September 13, 2011 | 2:20 p.m.

Why don't we just go door to door and count them ourselves.

I grew up in a similar town. The population at the time was around two thirds of the claimed population of this one. I believe that if all the students who lived here for part of the year were to be counted that the number would be much higher than the 108 that is reported.

(Report Comment)

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