Proposed cuts to Columbia's bus system could mean fewer routes, higher rates

Changes to Columbia bus system

Some major changes could be coming to Columbia's bus system as the department looks to cut more than half a million dollars.
That's because the bus system continues to lose money.

City manager Mike Matthes' proposed budget offered $558,000 in cuts to the bus system.

That involves cutting three routes with the lowest ridership: the pink, light green and dark green loops.

Marketing specialist Shay Jasper said those drivers would be assigned to different routes.

“We have a really high cost of personnel,” said Jasper. “We offer all of our temporary positions insurance, and so that adds up quite a bit to that cost of personnel.”

Two of the routes on the chopping block serve a large part of southwest Columbia and meet at Forum Blvd. and Green Meadows Road.

Together, those two routes take less than 10 passengers per hour, according to Columbia transit. As far as how people in this neighborhood would get around by bus, the department said they're still trying to figure that out.

“Definitely attend those public meetings. Attend those public hearings in front of city council. Be heard,” said Jasper. “This isn't something that's been decided now. It’s something that's in the process of being decided.”

The department would also raise para transit fees from $2 to $3 per ride.

The city saw a 4,000 rider decrease in the accessible bus service last year.

City council member Ian Thomas said the proposed cut would be difficult to take, but also noted it's hard to justify paying for routes that pick up so few passengers.

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