New bus routes booming

Since June, Columbia Transit has improved its punctuality and attracted more riders.
Friday, September 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:50 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

City buses are running almost 100 percent on time since Columbia Transit changed its bus routes in June, a transit official said. Also, the number of passengers riding the buses continues to surpass figures from last year.

According to transit statistics, 3,388 more riders used the fixed-route bus system through August than the 110,852 riders who rode the buses during the same three-month period last year.

Overall, the number of passengers has grown by a monthly average of almost 8 percent this year over last, and Columbia Transit is on track to exceed by far last year’s total of 457,481 riders.

The total number of riders still will fall short of the 512,000 total passengers who boarded buses during fiscal 2002. Columbia Transit Manager Ken Koopmans, however, said he’s confident the new routes will mean rising numbers of passengers in the future.

The most significant changes to the system included redrawing various routes to bypass congested downtown streets, which are now served by the new Brown Route. These changes were designed to decrease service delays, and passengers say it’s working.

“The bus system is definitely more reliable,” Columbia resident Toby Blew said while waiting for a bus at the Wabash Station bus depot. “The buses used to be consistently five minutes early or five minutes late, but after they changed the routes, the buses seem to be running on schedule.”

Mark Grindstaff, Columbia Transit’s operations manager, said last year, buses ran an average of nine minutes behind schedule. Since June, excluding delays caused by presidential campaign visits, the buses have been 100 percent on time, he said.

Grindstaff said some riders have complained about having trouble adjusting their routines to the new routes, but Patti Plakorus said she had no problem. Plakorus, who was riding the bus for the first time since the changes took effect, said she did have to make a few adjustments to get to her doctor’s appointments, but the Wabash staff helped plan her route. She also said she’s happy to see more people riding the bus.

“I always meet very nice people on the bus, but usually there are only one or two other people,” Plakorus said. “Today, though, I was happy to see that the bus was nearly full.”

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