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Columbia officials voice support for FastCAT route proposal

Sunday, May 27, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT


View FastCAT route in a larger map

COLUMBIA — The leader for the PedNet Coalition expressed support for Mayor Bob McDavid's FastCAT proposal Friday.

Ian Thomas, executive director of the group that seeks increased walking, bicycling and public transportation in Columbia, favors the overall strategy of the proposed bus route. McDavid's plan "identifies the biggest and best potential market: students," Thomas said.

The route, which was proposed Thursday, includes 11 stops through MU and downtown Columbia.

Third Ward councilman Gary Kespohl said the route would be a positive innovation for the transit system.

The rest of Columbia’s bus routes should intersect with the FastCAT route, he said. On-campus students could then take the FastCAT to connect to other routes.

“By moving some routes just a block or two south, we can do that,” Kespohl said.
He said purchasing a pass would ultimately save students money on gas if they travel frequently.

Individual students could buy a FastCAT pass for $100 per semester, under the proposed plan. Apartment complexes and other groups also have the option of purchasing a pass at a reduced rate, according to previous Missourian reporting.

But the proposed route could also benefit non-students, Thomas said.

"It could provide a great service to non-students. They could park in city garages ... and then use the bus for errands, meetings and whatever else they have in the downtown and campus area," Thomas said.

Second Ward councilman Michael Trapp supports the proposal as well.

"Anything we can do to create a culture where people aren't driving everywhere is good," he said.

The route should eventually expand to include stops such as Stephens College, Trapp said. However, Thomas said he likes the focused route the mayor outlined.

"We should focus on the student market first and then strengthen the system to improve the service for the whole city of Columbia," Thomas said.

If implemented, the route would need to be marketed well and include signs and clearly marked bus stops, Thomas said.

“If marketed properly, I think it could be a smashing success,” Kespohl said.


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Comments

Steve Spellman May 27, 2012 | 9:43 p.m.

Well, this sure seems to be moving in the right direction. Changing the routes to go where riders actually want to go is all good.
Focusing on customer service to offer riders something they want to purchase is the best thing, as opposed to forced subscriptions on students (a targeted tax, essentially) as was tried before and failed.
Moving to a Bus Authority, putting it at arms-length from the usual political process would be even better. Have a semi-independant manger that has experience in this field, and offer an incentive to increase ridership and keep costs in check. Run the buses more like a normal business, or continue to watch it go broke.

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