Several residents spoke in favor of an expanded transit system in Jefferson City, but that expansion is unlikely to happen in the near future as the city struggles with falling revenues.
The women of the First Presbyterian Church held a panel discussion Wednesday on public transit in Jefferson City, with roughly 30 people attending to hear the three panelists speak.
The panelists were Janice McMillan, city director of planning and protective services; 4th Ward Councilwoman Carrie Carroll; and Katie Jansen Larson, executive director of Jefferson City Congregations Uniting.
Questions ranged from how transit impacts the community to what recommendations from a 2006 transit development plan are still relevant. But the overwhelming theme of the discussion was expanded service.
"We would like to see evening service, of course," Carroll said.
But budget restraints are unlikely to allow any expansion in the foreseeable future, even though the city contributes only 20 percent of the transit system's funding. McMillan said, out of the city's general fund, transit receives about 2 percent of general revenue funds.
"The budget presents a challenge for the next several years," McMillan said.
Carroll, along with Larson, said it's important for community members to tell their council representatives that transit is important to them in order to get any more funds allocated to transit.
"The budget will always remain an issue," Carroll said. "That's always a challenge ... public support is key."
When asked what people could do to improve transit in the area, McMillan advised people to use the transit system. Increased ridership will increase the likelihood of a possible expansion, she said.
The city's transit system, JeffTran, operates 6:40 a.m.-5:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. McMillan said the hours accommodate those working 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cassandra Gould, pastor of Quinn Chapel, said students at Lincoln University are not accommodated by those hours and need transportation. She said some students are moving to other communities, such as Columbia, where it's easier to get around.
"If I'm a student, I'm not working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.," Gould said. "What is the city losing by not having an expanded transportation system?"