The Missourian solicited written answers to a set of questions from the four candidates for the Columbia City Council. Pat Fowler, Greg Pierson and Mark Anderson are seeking a three-year term representing the First Ward, while Matt Pitzer is running unopposed for a second term representing the Fifth Ward.
Here are their answers to the following question:
Despite what appears to be community consensus about the importance of a reliable public transportation system in Columbia, the City Council has continued to cut back on bus service and has struggled to find a successful model. What are your ideas for establishing a fiscally sound and reliable public transportation service?
Pat Fowler: Treat bus service generally, and specifically Go COMO , as economic development for the employees, the employers and the customers who would ride a robust transit system every day to get to work, school, the doctor, shopping, recreation and go back-and-forth from Columbia Regional Airport. If we were willing to give transit as much attention as the airport expansion, also an important economic development engine, we would be closer to providing a system that works for all of us, regardless of our socioeconomic status.
Greg Pierson: I envision a Columbia public transit system that is accessible, affordable and expansive in our city. I believe that Columbia can be a national leader in developing a system that significantly reduces private vehicle generated greenhouse gas emissions by building a comprehensive public transit system that goes beyond buses and considers all alternatives to combat climate change in our transportation options. One of the most important initial steps we must take in our effort to create such a public transit system is partnering with the MU and the Columbia Public School District to consolidate and centralize busing efforts, thereby increasing efficiency and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. A system with longer operating times, more accessibility to all residents and an increased number of passengers would also be effective for reducing private vehicle usage.
Mark Anderson: Again, I repeated this, we need to take a strong survey of people who take the bus, where they take the bus and when the greatest need is and put the need in that direction. If you live in a $300,000 house, you're not catching the bus.
Matt Pitzer: As with affordable housing, there is no obvious answer. We can’t continue pouring more and more money into a system that fewer and fewer people use. I support shrinking to a core, providing good, consistent service to that core and then, eventually growing once there is demand to meet. I worry, however, that ridership will decline even further in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic because of fears of contamination.