COLUMBIA — At Tuesday night's traffic forum hosted by the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council, people kept returning to the issue of parking: how difficult it is to park downtown, how expensive it is for some downtown employees to feed the parking meters and how the problems are only getting worse as the city grows.
Some Garth Avenue residents said parking in their neighborhood has become a nuisance. The street has no parking meters and is close to MU, and residents said that all day, students leave their cars parked there while they go to class.
Fourth Ward City Council member Ian Thomas, one of about a dozen people who attended the meeting, said the city's parking and traffic problems are an opportunity to expand Columbia's bus service.
"We need to start seriously offering more efficient options," he said. "We're getting to the point ... where we really can't function well as a campus and downtown area assuming every adult will travel back and forth in their own vehicle."
Thomas said the city has raised the price of parking garage passes and will reinvest that additional revenue into the bus system.
He also said he hopes CoMO Connect, a proposed plan to overhaul the city's bus system that is set to begin to take shape next year, will offer the city a fresh chance to get transit right.
Forum attendees also touched on the issue of delivery vehicles unloading in the middle of the street. They floated a few solutions but generally agreed it was a difficult issue that would require more discussion.
The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council will present suggestions and feedback from Tuesday's meeting and the meeting held Sept. 24 to the City Council.
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