The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services partnered with the PedNet Coalition and Central Missouri Community Action in late 2011 to perform an HIA on the health effects of expanding and improving bus service in Columbia. The HIA focused on health indicators most likely to be affected by expansion of public transit, including physical activity and access to healthcare, employment, education, and healthy food. The HIA found that expanding and improving bus service would likely have positive effects on health by providing more opportunities for physical activity; improving access to healthy foods, particularly in food deserts; and improving access to employment and health care benefits associated with employment. The HIA also made several recommendations to maximize benefits to community health such as ensuring bike racks are present at major Columbia Transit hubs, taking into account access to health care facilities when new bus routes are designed, and continuing a farmer’s market bus route to serve residents in areas classified as food deserts.
The HIA evaluated the potential health impacts if Columbia, Missouri, expanded or changed any of its bus routes to improve neighborhood connectivity and residents’ access to key locations (e.g., health care facilities, employment centers, after school activity sites, park and recreation areas, and stores with fresh food options). As a result of the HIA, the Public Works Department developed new neighborhood bus routes that connected residents to employment centers, health care facilities, and fresh food. The HIA also prompted several city departments to inquire about performing HIAs on their other policies and projects.