COLUMBIA, Mo. -

The city of Columbia has a new bus system as of Monday.

COMO Connect promises to take riders to more neighborhoods and have shorter wait times.

It's been in the works since 2011, when the bus system faced a budget deficit and a lower amount of riders.

Drew Brooks, the Multi Modal Manager for the city's Public Works Department, said leaders made the new system with as many requests from the public as possible.

"We were having trouble with timing and because we couldn't get to areas of the city that were more densely populated, so we think this new system fixes that," Brooks said.

One of the biggest changes: how the transfers work.  Before, riders had to go all the way to the downtown Wabash station to transfer to a different line to get across the city.

"Now transfers are actually done on the streets rather than one location," Brooks said.

And there are more than 40 places to transfer around town.

"With this system, if one bus is late you might have to wait at one transfer point, but the whole system doesn't have to come to a screeching halt," he explained.

Another big difference: the neighborhood routes.  Not only will buses now reach areas around Scott Boulevard and the new Battle High School in the northeast part of the city but these routes will also be much more convenient to riders.

"We wanted to design a neighborhood route that goes into a densely populated area and takes riders to the grocery store, pharmacy, or medical areas," Brooks said. "And you would not even have to leave that route that day."

Riders can also find route maps, time schedules, and even track their bus down to the minute using the free app DoubleMap.

City leaders hope these new changes encourage riders to use the bus system more frequently.

"If we ride together, we reduce the damage we do to our roads, save time and money, and reduce our carbon footprint," Brooks said.

It is free to ride during the month of August so anyone can try the new system out.

The buses run from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. 

For more information, head to comoconnect.org.