Columbia’s city council has voted to suspend transportation fares for GoCOMO bus riders for the fourth straight year.
GoCOMO has been operating fare-free since the March 2020 COVID emergency declaration. Columbia Public Works officials say current transportation sales tax (TST) funding and a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) operating grant can keep the bus system fare-free for at least another year.
Columbia Public Works spokesman John Ogan tells 939 the Eagle that the Columbia transit budget is $7.4 million, and that budget includes expected GoCOMO expenditures on fixed routes, Paratransit and the Tiger Line. Mr. Ogan notes Columbia transit receives its funding from state and federal grants, the transportation sales tax and also from Mizzou. The University of Missouri pays the city of Columbia about $839,000 for the operation of the Tiger Line shuttle service for students.
Mr. Ogan notes GoCOMo also receives about $2.5 million in federal grants, about $245,000 in state grants and about $2.5 million in transportation sales tax money.
Columbia used federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money and federal CARES Act funding for the past two years to remain fare-free, but those monies have run out. President Joe Biden (D) signed ARPA into law, and former President Donald Trump (R) signed the federal CARES Act into law.
GoCOMO has been a priority for city manager De’Carlon Seewood, who’s encouraged residents to ride the buses.