Columbia officials consider transit cuts

Columbia city officials are still discussing options for shoring up a projected one-million-dollar shortfall in the city’s transit budget.

By Matt Veto (Columbia, Mo.)

Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes said the transit system needs to find $1 million, either through cuts or by finding more revenue. He said he anticipates a solution will be found for the University of Missouri Black and Gold student service, which he runs at a loss. But at Thursday’s Disabilities Commission meeting, Matthes said that’s only half the issue, and time is tight.

"The budget cycle is going to fire up very quickly. August is the deadline for me to deliver the budget to council. So, by August, we have to know for sure what we’re going to do."

Matthes said any solution will not include another rate increase. But, if the budget needed to be balanced today, Matthes said all routes would need to cut service by one hour, and Thursday and Friday evening hours would need to be cut entirely.

Disabilities Commission chair Homer Page said things look better than a year ago, but he still has concerns.

"The city has been able to expand their services beyond what the legal requirements are under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We don’t want to see that cut back."

In the coming weeks, city officials will observe successful transit programs in three Midwest college towns.