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City committee: No free JeffTran rides on election days

City committee: No free JeffTran rides on election days

October 12th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

Even though residents have been requesting free JeffTran rides on election days for years, the Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee decided Thursday morning not to pursue the proposal due to potential revenue loss and other possible hurdles.

If JeffTran offered free rides on Election Day for both fixed-route and Handi-Wheels buses, the city would lose $2,000-$2,500 each day, Jefferson City Transit Director Mark Mehmert said. If paratransit was not included, he added, the city would lose $500-$600 a day.

But, if the city were to offer free JeffTran rides on election days, they would be for both fixed-route and paratransit buses so as not to “disadvantage particular riders,” Morasch said.

City staff opted not to recommend the proposal due to the potential loss of revenue across multiple election days, Morasch said, adding ridership does not increase much on election days.

JeffTran buses do not have stops at all voting precincts in Jefferson City and do not operate the entire time the polls are open, Mehmert said.

If the city were to offer this service, Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey said, he worries the loss of revenue would impact expanding JeffTran routes and hours.

Columbia currently offers free rides for its fixed-route and paratransit buses on election days, Mehmert said.

City staff proposed the idea to the Jefferson City Transit Advisory Committee, which endorsed the recommendation last month after several residents suggested it.

Jaycee/Industrial Drive intersection improvements discussed

In other business Thursday, the committee plans to continue looking at possible improvements to the Jaycee and Industrial drives intersection at the urge of several Schellridge neighborhood residents, with long-term improvements possibly to include a roundabout.

City staff plans to present more data to the committee in November.

The city removed a traffic light at the intersection after a semi-truck struck it in June. The following month, city staff suggested permanently removing the light, as re-installing a traffic light would cost $200,000-$250,000 since the light is near the railroad tracks and would need to be brought up to code.

Several residents in the nearby neighborhood oppose removing the light completely, fearing safety issues such as increased speeding.

A roundabout would require less maintenance, and crashes would likely be less severe, City Engineer David Bange said, adding it also handles various traffic volumes.

If the city decides to construct a roundabout, it would not be built for at least at least a few years due to lack of funding, the committee and city staff emphasized.

City staff was not seeking immediate action from the committee since the intersection doesn’t meet the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices’ criteria for a traffic light installation, and a roundabout is not required immediately, Morasch said.

“Ultimately, right now, it seems to be operating fine without the stoplight,” Bange said.

To address some safety concerns in the meantime, Bange said, Ameren replaced a street light at the intersection with a LED light and will add a second LED light at the intersection.

During Thursday’s meeting, residents suggested the city also consider placing speed humps in the Schellridge neighborhood and posting signs along Industrial Drive to encourage drivers to slow down.

“It is an issue,” resident Paula Johnson said. “We’re all busy, and we’re not just doing this because we want to complain.”

City staff originally conducted a traffic study, stating there was plenty of sight distance, minimal delays and small queue lengths during the morning peak hours at that intersection.

Neighborhood residents requested in July that the city redo the survey to include school traffic. City staff conducted a new traffic count but told the committee it needed to redo the study because there was an error in the data.