It looks like another major overhaul at Como Connect is in the planning. After a total revamp of its whole fixed route service and a rebranding back in 2014, now it looks like the “major” changes weren’t so great after all. I’ve covered Como for over a decade and haven’t seen it so bad. Ridership has declined, that could be attributed to lower gasoline prices to some extent, but most of that has to do with poor frequency on many of the routes and the timing of bus arrivals.
Como Connect has always been a lousy system, but it seems many riders have just had it with irregular schedules and the dumb neighborhood connecting routes. Who thought this was a good idea? If one bus is late and the other one is early, or vice versa, you’d be stuck waiting for another hour for another bus! This waiting would expose the rider to the elements whether it be the sun or rain with no place to sit! According to Columbia Transit and Parking Manager Drew Brooks, “The simple operational solution would be to put more; more vehicles and more drivers on the street, but that is the most expensive thing that you can do is to add more buses and more drivers to the system.” It wouldn’t be possible adding more frequency to fixed routes unless more funding was added to the budget.
Now there is talk of eliminating service on some routes completely and converting the routes to an on demand flex route service. This is terrible for many riders as this would have to make them call ahead to schedule a pick up. After that pick up, the shuttle bus would bring the passenger to the closest bus stop to make their onward journey to where they need to go. What waste of time and for me wouldn’t make me want to ride the bus at all! Why not just create some transfer points for buses to meet, like returning some buses back to Wabash station. Maybe setting up small transit centers at Columbia Mall, Nifong/Providence, and Broadway/Hwy 63 would be better! Transfer points with frequency, this is what comparable systems like Champaign-Urbana MTD already does!
The City of Columbia is hosting forums over the Summer to discuss the changes, lets just hope the riders speak out and let their voices be heard! So instead of touting being the first transit system in Missouri to use electric buses (BYD K-9), why not make a system were one doesn’t need a car to get around town. Como needs to stop being crap and look towards a making the residents thrive in a livable community that offers good connections all around town!
My previous articles and posts about Columbia Transit a.k.a Como Connect: