Growing city needs revival of public transportation system

T.J. Gerlach - Senior Editor

T.J. Gerlach – Senior Editor

T.J. Gerlach

Although I have a vehicle and don’t mind the gas prices as much as most people, I have noticed something seriously lacking in Joplin. This may be a small city, but nonetheless, it is one large enough to have a real public transportation system. Joplin is growing; no one around can deny that.

Obviously, I am not referring to taxi companies. Joplin is already set with them. What this town needs is a public bus system. It would not matter whether it was privately-owned or city-owned, so long as it was reasonably priced for its passengers.

Prior to 1940, Joplin had a streetcar system, and buses ran from 1940 until around 1969. One line even ran between Carthage and Joplin.

A public transport system would not only help people who have limited modes of transportation in the city, but I have heard numerous complaints from international students and many residence hall students who wish Joplin had a public transit system. This way, they could do their shopping and go out without having to worry about finding someone who can drive them.

This system could be helpful to any who worry about paying ever-increasing fuel prices. One example I know of is my father at home in Tulsa. Last fall, he began riding the Tulsa Transit express bus to work more or less everyday instead of driving and found he was saving at least $10 per week.

The Joplin Metro Area Publictransit System, or MAPS as everyone knows it, is a good start. Unfortunately, it only operates on a limited basis between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In my opinion, bear in mind I have only been in Joplin since I started college, the system would be sufficient with regular lines running along Joplin’s major arteries, especially in the beginning. Routes like these would include north-south routes running on Range Line Road, Main Street, Maiden Lane, Schifferdecker Avenue and a few streets in between such as Connecticut Avenue. East-west routes could run along Fourth Street, Seventh Street, 15th Street, 20th Street and 32nd Street. Murphy Boulevard could also serve as a route across lines.

Major destinations like the Missouri Southern campus, Northpark Mall and the Joplin Regional Airport could have specific stops along one or two of the lines. Also, more streets and stops could be added after the system is established and popular areas for it become identified.

Other future plans for a bus line could include routes into surrounding communities to allow commuters better access.

As for hours of operation, the line could start running about 6 a.m. on weekdays for those who need to get to work, and possibly 7 or 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. At the end of the day, the buses could probably stop running by 10 or 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, since, let’s face it, Joplin does settle down earlier than many cities.

Rides on these buses could be inexpensively priced. Basing off prices of Tulsa Transit at $1.25 for adults, and Springfield’s City Utilities bus system at $.75 for adults, passengers could ride for $.50 to $1.25 per ride. And, as with many public transit systems, discounted monthly or other timed passes could be offered.

Such a public transit system would greatly aid Joplin’s growth as a small city. It would also make Joplin more appealing to travelers, companies and other ventures that would help the local economy.