Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- With a new penny tax on the books and new changes coming to the system CMRTA riders have coming together to make sure they have a say in what happens. They have formed the Midlands Transit Riders Association, or MTRA.
"Any progressive city that plans to grow and bring in industry and bring in tourism a public transportation system is a must," said Virginia Sanders, a rider's advocate.
Community members formed association to give bus patrons a say, allowing them to voice concerns and tell system leaders what they need and want.
"Being able to convey what riders want and their service can help them live out their daily lives," said Brittany Higgins with the association.
Lill Mood, a CMRTA Board member, says the new group is just the thing to connect leaders and riders.
"People are busy they are on their way to work they don't often have time or a way to get to public hearings and besides we only have those mostly when we're changing services and we needed an ongoing to talk with our riders, to hear from them and to have a way to get information out to them," she said.
According to Mood, say CMRTA will have a permanent place on its monthly agenda for the group to speak.
Mood says a board member will also attend the association's meetings to offer information and be available to riders.
She also says the association will select someone to fill a seat on the system's service and standards committee that looks into possible changes.
CMRTA Executive Director Bob Schneider says the community coming together to create the group could keep the city ahead of the game.
"If you look around the industry, if you look around the nation what you'll see is organizations like this are often set up in opposition to the transit system. They're set up and they're not embraced, they're not a part of the community fabric. What's different is we're now doing it right from the get-go," he said.
Schneider says you can expect to see new buses, benches and signs in the near future.