After five years of using bus services provided by First Student and the city of Columbia, MU has entered into an exclusive contract with the city to provide bus services on campus.
Jim Joy, MU director of parking and transportation, estimates that the service will cost MU about $500,000 this year. In past years, the cost has been between $300,000 and $400,000 depending on services, the number of buses and hours of availability. Last year, the use of city buses cost the university $36 per hour per 40-foot bus, resulting in a cost of about $1,600 per day for the use of four city buses. Costs for this year are hard to determine because the city didn’t bid for the contract by the hour as in previous years, and a combination of bus types will be used.
Rob Davis, a city transit supervisor, said the city’s bus services will not be affected by the new contract. Davis said the city has plenty of buses to handle MU’s needs, and it is interviewing for new drivers.
A student transportation fee of $10.33 pays for 80 percent of the campus cost, while the other 20 percent is generated by parking tickets and parking passes. Fees for students will stay the same this year, said Brett Ordnung, president of the Missouri Students Association.
According to MSA records, last year almost 4,500 students used the daytime bus service and about 250 students used the evening services every day.
In previous years, the city has provided daytime service for the two commuter lots at the Hearnes Center and near the Trowbridge Livestock Pavilion, while First Student provided the night shuttles for the two lots and accessible buses for handicapped students.
Joy said the purpose of putting the city in charge of all services is to try to better integrate the university and city systems.
“This is the first step in truly trying to promote using transit in and around the community,” Joy said.
Students who ride shuttle buses on campus will now be able to make easier transfers to city buses that make runs throughout Columbia. This could benefit students who need to use public transportation, and Joy said they are hoping to promote the fact that students ride city buses at half price.
Recommendations by MSA, MU’s student government, helped to prompt the change.
“I think that it’s a good way for students that don’t have transportation to have the community available to them,” Ordnung said.
Other changes to the bus system include the discontinuation of the phone service that previously was available during night-time hours. Under the old system, students were able to contact bus drivers and find out where the bus was and when the driver expected to be at the lot the student was calling from. Joy said that the service was misunderstood and that students would complain when the bus driver didn’t come immediately to pick them up.
“It was a good idea; it just didn’t work out,” Joy said.
Routes for the shuttle buses have not changed. Other than schedule adjustments, people riding the buses won’t see much of a difference, Joy said.