The Maneater

MSA bill establishes Public Transit Week, offers free rides to students

The bill was proposed by MSA senator Dylan Cain, who said using public transit allows students to be more engaged and educated on the issues of poverty and disability.

The Missouri Students Association senate passed bill 57-31 on March 14, which established MSA Public Transit Week as April 9-13. This bill allows for MU students to ride public buses for free during that week.

The bill was established after MSA senator Dylan Cain proposed it in early February. He said he wanted to do something regarding transportation since last semester since MSA has had discussions about public transit on several other occasions.

Cain was also formerly involved with Columbia’s Public Transit Advisory Commission, a commission with the city of Columbia dedicated to resolving issues regarding public transit. He said when this bill was passed, members of city government reached out to him and told him he should consider adding an incentive for students to ride buses during this week.

Cain said he went to Go COMO, Columbia’s public transit system, soon after and asked for a week to allow students free ridership and was granted such.

“That provided us a cool opportunity to promote public transit throughout the whole student body and push the benefits of public transit,” Cain said.

Cain said these benefits include understanding more about poverty and disability.

“Issues of disability and issues of poverty are going to run at the core of Go COMO’s mission,” Cain said. “So to ride public transit and to understand public transit is to understand really the experience of poverty and disability in Columbia.”

He said these issues make the topic of public transit more important for MU student leaders to understand and make themselves involved in the greater local community.

Additionally, Cain said utilizing public transit helps local city governments and their resources.

Drew Brooks, transit and parking manager at Go COMO, said he hopes the week increases the awareness of the citywide bus system and provides more transportation for MU students.

“Public transportation is safer than nearly all modes of travel,” Brooks said.

Brooks and Cain also referenced the environmental benefits of using public transit as opposed to each individual driving everywhere. Brooks said public transit is one of the lowest carbon footprint modes of travel.

“Climate change is a reality that we can all impact by making small personal changes,” Brooks said. “Transportation is one choice that can have a great impact on reducing carbon emissions.”

MSA is also putting out a survey for students who ride the bus during Transit Week. It will promote the survey through social media and offer one person a free bus pass for a year. Cain said he would like to have other student governments, such as the Residence Halls Association and the Legion of Black Collegians, to be involved in Transit Week as well.

“Having a lot of student leaders’ inputs is going to be important,” Cain said. “We want those people going out there and bringing back what they learned with their student government in mind.”

Cain said having public transit as a viable alternative would benefit the greater community, as most first-year students don’t have a car on campus and not everyone in college can afford their own car.

“I don’t think we should be necessarily in a position where we just have to bring our cars here or have to pay parking passes and the fees that come with those,” he said. “It’s all about providing options.”

Edited by Skyler Rossi | srossi@themaneater.com

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