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Planting the seed: Public transportation

Columbia residents push for increased bus ridership, better transit to combat sedentary lifestyles
Thursday, November 10, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST
Columbia's new black and gold buses that were unveiled Oct. 3 have bike racks for passengers who ride their bikes to bus stops.

COLUMBIA — About 30 postcards arrived in Barbara Hoppe's mailbox during the middle of the recent debate over city transit cuts.

The postcards, addressed to the Sixth Ward councilwoman, said the proposed cuts were too harsh and targeted the people least able to pay. They said the cuts weren't in the community's best interest and noted that public transportation decreases wear and tear on roads.

The postcards were distributed to citizens by Columbians for Modern, Efficient Transit, the team working on public transportation through Unite 4 Healthy Neighborhoods, and sent to City Council members.

About 900 postcards were sent, Michelle Windmoeller, assistant director of PedNet, said.

"It always helps to hear people speak up and say what’s important to them," Hoppe said. "Sometimes, you just have to give them an effective mechanism to do that. I think it was helpful and had a helpful impact."

The postcards are one example of a key goal of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative: involving citizens in policy issues related to obesity.

Columbians for Modern, Efficient Transit set out to triple bus ridership during the next three years to increase physical activity by getting people to walk or bike to and from bus stops and to give people better access to schools and jobs. The proposed transit cuts, however, changed the group’s course of action.

Those cuts included eliminating Thursday, Friday and Saturday routes after 6:25 p.m. and increasing fares. Instead, the sole bus runs cut were the Thursday and Friday 9:30 p.m. routes, but there were no cuts on Saturdays.

“Luckily, we already had a team together. That allowed us to move quickly and get the word out to the community and have organized effort to try to stop the transit cuts,”  Windmoeller said. “If we didn’t have the public transportation team, who knows what would have happened?”

Unite 4 Healthy Neighborhoods supports Mayor Bob McDavid’s vision for quadrupling the use of the transit system, Windmoeller said. Ideally, her group would like to see a bus system with frequent, convenient service that reaches all parts of the city.

“You know, pie in the sky," she said, "there are places where transit is free, so it would be great for Columbia to get to that point."

Next page | Columbia socioeconomic status influences food choices and consumption

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Comments

Louis Schneebaum November 10, 2011 | 1:14 p.m.

All of the buses already had bike racks. This has been the case for a number of years, not just since the inception of the hideous Tiger Trams.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum November 10, 2011 | 1:16 p.m.

But what these people are doing, with food, transit, etc is great. Population is going to hit 9 billion soon and we collectively, need to start making better choices about what we do.

(Report Comment)

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