On Tuesday, March 13, 2012, the Columbia Missourian published an article called “Final bus trip gives Columbia chance to reflect on transit” to the College Town Transit page on the website. The reason this caught my attention is because, as a resident of The Reserves, an apartment complex off of Old Highway 63 South, I’ve dealt with a lot of issues regarding the bus system and public transit.
It really amazed me to read about how different public transportation is in Champaign-Urbana at the University of Illinois in comparison to what it is here in Columbia at the University of Missouri. The budgets for each area are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum, with Columbia operating on a $4.8 million budget and Champaign-Urbana on a $36 million budget.
As far as my experiences in Columbia are concerned, living off campus in Columbia and not owning a car, this is the first time in my life I’ve had to rely on public transportation to get me to my desired destinations. A few months back in Fall of 2011, I had signed a petition, along with many other residents of The Reserves, to stop the bus fare rates for us from going up. We had received free bus passes along with paying rent to live at The Reserves, but since the funds for the route were running low and dry, the system wanted to start charging us extra for each time we road the bus. Luckily, we got enough signatures to stop the increased fee, but the future of this route doesn’t look to good.
As a frequent rider, I’ve noticed that on our buses, there are posters taped to the inside of the bus saying that there is a possibility that this bus route will not be running at all come August 2012. Just from personal experience, I know this small detail will largely impact students’ decisions as to if they will live at The Reserves next year.
I’m really curious as to how a state decides how much funding to give to the public transportation system. Obviously, there is a heavy need for it in Columbia from the off campus students apartments. I can’t even keep track of how often the buses are completely packed at prime hours of the day. It’s really ridiculous. We are packed in like sardines on the bus, fighting to at least be able to stand, if not sit, for the ride. Almost every single time I’ve gotten on the 9:10 a.m. bus to campus, the driver has had to leave students behind because we can’t all fit. Not only does that mean they have to take a different bus a half hour later, but they they also miss their classes. When the bus system is negatively impacting a students ability to get to class on time, something is definitely wrong with the system.
I know of other schools that have buses run every 5-7 minutes, and here at Mizzou I have to wait 30 minutes between each scheduled bus. And on top of that, I believe the last bus back to the reserves runs at 5:30 p.m. from campus, which means that students who have later classes can’t even rely on the public transportation to get back home.
Reading this article just spiked a lot of emotions in me in relation to public transit. Luckily for me, I will be getting a car to bring back to school after spring break, but as for the rest of the student population who doesn’t have that luxury, I’m not even sure what to think anymore.