COMO Connect staff answered questions and collected feedback on proposed changes to the bus system from riders at bus stops throughout the day Thursday.
Staff also rode the bus on multiple routes, met with bus drivers to get their input on proposed changes and held an open house at City Hall on Thursday night.
Suzanne Lippard, who rides the bus several times each week, stopped by the Park De Ville Place bus shelter, near Wal-Mart on West Broadway, to learn more about the four proposals COMO Connect is considering as it looks to improve the bus system and increase ridership.
“The transferring now is awful,” Lippard said. “I would hate to see them do away with the gold route.”
Lippard said she has ridden Columbia’s bus for 25 years. She misses how the system before COMO Connect stopped at the Wabash Station for transfers. She said many of the transfer stops do not have seating, which can be difficult for elderly residents. Often, there is a long waiting time at those stops, she said.
A city-hired consultant created the four bus system alternative route plans. Drew Brooks, city transit and parking manager, said each of the proposals being considered aim to increase the frequency and consistency of buses on each route.
Brooks said comments received Thursday were “all over the map” with some liking existing routes and others calling for buses stopping more frequently at individual stops.
“People do have a lot of questions about the idea of flex routes,” Brooks said of his conversations Thursday.
In a flex system, some residential areas would not have a bus driving in a loop to pick up passengers. Instead, customers in that “flex zone” could request a COMO Connect shuttle pick them up and take them to a location in that same zone or to a place where the passenger could connect to a fixed bus route.
Doing that would allow the city to take buses that don’t pick up many passengers and add them to more popular routes to increase the frequency of bus stops there. That means less wait time for customers on high traffic routes.
Transit scenario A costs about the same as the current bus system. It aims to simplify bus routes by adding flex routes, changing the alignment of Gold Route No. 2 and splitting Black Route No. 1 into two separate routes. That would increase frequency by providing stops every 30 minutes. Buses currently run on loops and, depending on the time of day, frequency of stops can be 30, 35, 40 or 60 minutes.
Transit scenario B also costs about the same as the current system and aims to improve transfers and shift changes for bus drivers. It alters the system from one-way loops to two-way straight bus routes that use the Wabash Station to connect to other routes. That also includes flex routes and stops every 30 minutes.
Transit scenario C costs about $800,000 more than the current system and, like option B, it includes two-way routes. It does not include…