In Fall 2015, Como Connect became the first transit agency in Missouri to use an all-electric bus. The BYD K-9 all-electric bus is a unique alternative and is gaining popularity across the country. Como has a 40 footer BYD and three 30 footer BYD soon to be entering service in June 2016. The BYD’s battery allows up to 144 miles per charge and can be recharged in only two to three hours. I have covered Como (Columbia Transit rebrands as Como Connect) over the years and seen them go from so-so to worse!
I wanted to go see and ride the BYDs for this blog, so I looked on Como’s Facebook to see which routes the BYD run. Posts on Como’s Facebook page mentioned the BYDs ran on the 1A and 1B routes, so I took a day off from work March 4th and went, parked my car at one of Mizzou’s parking garage, pulled out my iPhone and opened up the Double Map app to start my day in Columbia. One thing nice about the Double Map app is that it tells you how many minutes before the next bus arrives and where it is on the route, but with Como’s terrible fixed route waiting can be more than 45 minutes. Meanwhile on the Mizzou campus frequency is best with Como’s New Flyer D40LF and Gillig BRT low floors shuttling students from off campus housing to class frequently. After waiting over an hour I did not see a BYD running, both the 1A and 1B Black routes were running Gilligs. VERY DISAPPOINTING I wasted a day! I made another trip to Columbia with another day off on April 12th and yet another wasted day with no BYD seen on the streets of Columbia!
Also, recently the Motor Bus Society had their Spring 2016 convention in St. Louis and Columbia was on the original itinerary of places to visit. However, at the last minute that was changed and a trip out to Columbia to see Como was not included. Instead MBS went to tour several Illinois transit agencies as well as spend more time touring St. Louis Metro/Bi-State Development operations. I am not sure why there were changes, but my guess is that Como didn’t want to be embarrassed and show the MBS the horrible system they have. The elimination of the Wabash transit center to more neighborhood connector routes would have made it hard to see many buses unless at the University campus. Besides who want to wait to 45 minutes to an hour to see a Gillig? Oh and on Sundays, no fixed route service at all!