Bus officials have called a drop-in meeting for today to talk with riders about extending hours of service and routes.
While no date has been set for improvements, director Bob Schneider said he wants to be “primed and ready” when money becomes available now that Richland County voters have approved a sales-tax for transportation.
The meeting is 2-5 p.m. today at the CMRTA transit center, corner of Sumter and Laurel streets in downtown Columbia.
Specifically, Schneider said he wants to discuss with riders the possibility of running buses until 9 p.m. weekdays and until 8 p.m. Saturdays; and improving service along two routes, Forest Drive and Broad River Road, during peak hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“This is really exploratory,” he said, but would restore lost hours and enhance service.
“It’s a good Step 1, we just don’t know when we’d be allowed to make that step.”
Meeting with riders now would allow the system to be poised for improvements as soon as money becomes available. Schneider said it takes six weeks, minimum, to implement changes once they’re approved by the board of directors.
Changes won’t come soon enough for Columbia resident Damond Wilson, 38, a parking attendant who’s also a student at Midlands Tech.
He said cabs cost him nearly $20 a day and, on weekends, there are a lot of places he just can’t go.
“I’m just ready for the bus system to be like it was,” he said.
On Nov. 6, Richland County residents approved a sales tax to improve roads, bus service and pedestrian pathways.
Shoppers will begin paying the extra tax May 1, but leaders of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority are looking to identify money that would allow them to implement changes before then.