Contact: Columbia Public Works
On Sunday, April 13th, Columbia will get its first real glance at the new COMO Connect city bus system that will be available to the community this fall. The City is using this day to bring in all drivers and staff to practice the new routes before the new system goes live for customers August 4th. The full test run on April 13thcomes after numerous smaller training days over the last several weeks, but this will be the first time the entire system will be running at once. "Sunday's full test-run is an important piece of our driving training this summer. It will give us an opportunity to test the timing and connection points before the system is opened to customers," says Dale Lynn, Columbia's Transportation Superintendent. The test run is scheduled to begin around 2:00 p.m. and customers can watch the buses in action on the city's free bus-tracking service, DoubleMap.
Since customers will not be able to use city buses while the COMO Connect training is in session, the City specifically scheduled the training days on Sundays when there is no bus service to avoid interference with normal service for customers. All training buses will be clearly marked as "Not in Service" while on the road so customers do not try to board. The city will also be making announcements on their website, bus-tracking app, and social media pages to inform customers of the training day in advance and avoid confusion about the buses being on the roads in off-service times and in new areas the current routes do not serve.
The new COMO Connect routes and service areas have been in the making for over a year, after public input and feedback told the City that the current Columbia Transit bus system required major changes and improvements to meet the needs of the growing community. After months of research, customer surveys, public input meetings, and countless redesigns, the plans for the new COMO Connect bus routes were approved by City Council on February 17th, and the date to switch over to the new system was set for August 4th. "Customers will see a big difference in the new routes because they will no longer be reliant on the central transfer hub at the downtown Wabash Station," says Drew Brooks, the City's Multi-Modal Manager. "The changes will allow us to offer faster and more convenient service for today's community that has rapidly outgrown just one central transfer point and is in desperate need of a better public transportation system."
The City is using the six months before the big switch to print new route maps and signs, train bus drivers on the new routes, and educate current and future customers about using the new system. The City will also be opening limited service on the new routes in mid-July for customers to try out the new routes and connections before everyone completely switches over to the new system August 4th.