Hyun Shik Yoon, an industrial engineering student at MU, depends on city buses to travel between campus and his home. That often means leaving before 6 p.m. to catch his ride at Wabash Station.
Yoon wishes he had more time some evenings to study at the library, so a city plan to extend bus operations several evenings each week would suit him fine, he said.
Proposed changes in evening bus hours and ending a city bus line that goes to Hollywood and Forum 8 theaters are up for discussion at a public hearing at 7 tonight.
The Columbia Transit master plan proposes ending the purple route that went from downtown to the theater complexes because of lack of use. The purple route, which only runs on Fridays and Saturdays, has averaged fewer than 800 riders a year since it began in 2004.
The purple route operates between Wabash Station, Goodrich Forum 8 and Hollywood Theaters from 2 to 10 p.m. Friday and 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday with one stop at MU’s Brady Commons.
Grindstaff said it’s the least-used route in Columbia.
A change last year to direct the route through Wabash Station did not help attract more riders, Koopmans said: “The ridership didn’t materialize.”
The city wants to extend evening bus hours until 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and cut back night hours to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Even though buses would end their runs earlier Thursday through
Saturday, the plan calls for adding buses during the new operating hours.
Mark Grindstaff, supervisor of Columbia Transit, said he hopes to end the purple route and change hours of operation on Saturday by August, with weekday changes beginning in January.
The proposed changes are based on public input through calls and a comment box at Wabash Station. Grindstaff said the idea for ending operations earlier on Thursday through Saturday came after an analysis found that more than 90 percent of riders on those days were using the buses before 8 p.m.
The city also plans to hire five drivers to operate additional buses during hours of heaviest use.
The plan is cost-neutral, Grindstaff said. Any extra costs from the increased personnel, fuel and maintenance would be offset by reducing temporary workers and reducing overtime, he said.
The proposed decrease in evening hours for Thursday through Saturday are due to decreased ridership. After Columbia Mall required parental supervision for youth age 17 and under after 4 p.m. on weekends, ridership on those routes decreased 34 percent during those hours, Grindstaff said.
After tonight’s meeting, comments will be compiled and sent to the Columbia City Council for final approval as part of Columbia Transit’s 2007 master plan.