Festival attendees board a shuttle bus

Festival attendees board a shuttle bus after attending Roots N Blues on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park. A volunteer directing the buses said six buses with Student Transportation of America would run all evening until all attendees went home.

The free shuttles to Roots N Blues have faced delayed schedules this weekend, causing some attendees to be upset.

The shuttles were scheduled to run every 10 to 15 minutes from all downtown parking garages to Stephens Lake Park but are taking upwards of an hour to pick up festivalgoers. The shuttles, which are school buses, are arriving to parking garages full after picking up passengers at stops early in the route.

One shuttle arrived at the Sixth and Cherry parking garage at 1:12 p.m. and was at capacity, leaving people waiting more than an hour to get to the event.

Mike Murphy, an attendee attempting to use the shuttle system, faced delays of 45 minutes Friday evening and over an hour Saturday afternoon. On Friday evening, Murphy missed the first act because of the delays and arrived late Saturday after deciding to take an Uber after waiting an hour for the shuttle.

“What’s the point? We could’ve Ubered,” Murphy said.

Stephens Lake Park does not have parking for the event. Roots N Blues owners Trio Presents advocated for other transportation methods, including walking or biking from downtown or being dropped off by a ride share near the event entrance.

However, Roots N Blues is roughly a 30-minute walk from downtown, which might not be accessible for some attendees. Taking an Uber is an additional cost to money spent on festival tickets or food, making it a less-than-optimal choice for some.

“We paid way too much money to wait longer than 30 minutes for a shuttle,” said Amy Renae, a Roots N Blues ticket holder.

Several festivalgoers Saturday afternoon ordered Ubers after waiting more than an hour for the shuttle. The Ubers took anywhere from six to nine minutes to arrive to the downtown locations.

Sarah Schwentker, one attendee who took an Uber to the festival after waiting past 1 p.m. for the Saturday shuttle, didn’t experience lengthy delays Friday evening, but she did Saturday.

“I really think it’s the bus driver shortage,” Schwentker said.

Columbia, along with the rest of the nation, has been facing a lack of bus drivers recently. Up until this point, the effects of the local shortage were felt predominantly by Columbia Public Schools.

Now, with Roots N Blues using school buses as shuttles, it’s possible the driver shortage is contributing to delays for festivalgoers.

Roots N Blues coordinators did not respond to requests for comment about the cause of the delays and how they will affect the remainder of the festival.

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  • Vox Reporter, Fall 2021. Studying Reporting and Writing. Reach out to me at sophiestephens@mail.missouri.edu

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