The Missouri Students Association, through Columbia Transit, has created Tiger Line, an updated bus system expected to make transportation more catered to students.
“We wanted to make the bus system more convenient for students’ services,” MSA President Xavier Billingsley said.
The new system is a rerouted and re-marketed version of the old bus system that started in 1985. Along with Columbia Transit, MSA worked with MU Campus Facilities and MU Parking and Transportation Services.
Tiger Line, which began this semester, features day and night routes to popular areas throughout the school year without any additional fee for students.
All routes start at the MU Student Center.
The day buses arrive in 10-minute intervals from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. To transport students around MU, there are three different routes which can stop at places such as Jesse Hall, University Hospital, Faurot Field and East Campus. These routes were mainly unchanged from previous years.
Most of the changes were made to the night bus routes.
“We modified routes to take students where they want to go,” MU Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said.
Based on 2,000 student responses in an MSA survey, three different night routes take students to popular locations such as downtown Columbia, Greektown, Walmart on Grindstone Parkway, Kohl’s and Campus View Apartments.
The night buses arrive every 30 minutes from 6 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. on Sundays.
The buses have predetermined stops but can be flagged down anywhere along their routes, according to the Tiger Line website.
The new routes were designed as a response to the old routes’ unpopularity among students.
MSA Senate Speaker Jake Sloan gave one example of an outdated bus route, which went to Hollywood Theaters Stadium 14 and was generally unused. The route was cut due to unpopularity.
Along with unused bus routes, the old bus system faced a financial deficit. At the end of 2011, the City of Columbia planned to either cut $1 million from the transit budget or charge students an $80 per semester fee for riding the bus, according to a previous Maneater article.
Unused bus lines, alongside potential transportation fee raises by the city of Columbia, motivated MSA to revamp the old system.
Although bus services for students have changed, transportation fees have not.
Students currently pay approximately $21 to MU Parking and Transportation Services. This fee pays for students —- and guests accompanied by a student —- to utilize the bus transportation services.
“Students paid for the (bus) services but didn’t know what they were,” Billingsley said. “Students just were not using them.”
Students’ lack of knowledge about the bus system prompted MSA to begin a new promotion campaign.
“MSA is pushing it really hard so students know the program,” Billingsley said.
With the new Tiger Line name, color coordinated maps, new website and Columbia Transit phone app, members of MSA said they wanted to make the services easy for students to understand.
“(Previously,) the service wasn’t that visible,” Sloan said. “The new website makes it more clear.”
The new changes were adopted to help students in various ways. Whether helping students get downtown without a car, to classes during the winter or to faraway parking lots, Billingsley said he hopes to make transportation easier for all students.
The buses’ late-night hours also help students arrive home safely at night.
Sloan and other MSA members will be able to anticipate the program’s evolution based on student feedback. Expansion of the program will depend on its popularity among students. Currently, MSA is focusing on promoting the system to students.
“Students already paid for it," Seville said. "It offers a safe ride home from downtown. (Students) don’t have to park. There’s an environmental benefit. Students might as well be using it.”