COLUMBIA — Columbians for Modern, Efficient Transit wants the community to help fix the city’s bus system.
After a year of budget crises, fare hikes and service scale backs, the transit system is at a crossroads.
The community is invited to provide their suggestions to improve public transportation at two public forums. Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe will host the first, on Monday, Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2615 Shepard Blvd.
First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt will host the second forum on Thursday, Feb. 16 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Russell Chapel CME Church, 108 E. Ash St.
“We’re at a point where we have a monetary challenge, and in this last year we’ve had the risk of cutting service.” Hoppe said. “These conversations are engaging the community to figure out what peoples’ needs are and then come up with a solution.”
Hoppe has identified potential problems with the bus system in the past, including the current one-hub system, in which all buses begin and end their routes at Wabash Station.
“The hub system is very indirect,” Hoppe said. She would like to see the city explore a grid system, where all routes follow a north-south, east-west path.
“There’s a whole group of Columbia citizens that would use transit if it were faster and more direct,” she said.
Hoppe said that despite financial problems with the city's buses, there is a bright spot.
“What’s exciting now is with a new city manager and a better analysis of the budget, we can step back and say, ‘Where do we want to go and how do we get there?’” Hoppe said.
Jennifer Null, PedNet Coalition program assistant, said she hoped the events would model a grassroots movement by encompassing all facets of the community.
"Come and talk to us," Null said. "We want everyone's opinion."