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Chat about the T's future with Cliff Galante

June 13, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Cliff Galante

Lawrence Transit System Administrator Cliff Galante joined us for an online chat Wednesday to take questions on proposed changes to T fares and other policy changes.

Moderator:

This is Laura McHugh, 6 News Reporter. Cliff, thanks so much for joining us today. Maybe you could start out by explaining what changes riders can expect come July 1.

Cliff Galante:

Laura, thank you for inviting me to participate in this chat.

On July 1st transit riders should expect the following changes:

(1) Fare increase for T and T Lift service. Specifically, the full-fare for T service will increase to $0.75 (one-way trip) and the fare T Lift service will increase to $1.50. Also, in terms of fares we will begin offering an unlimited daily ride pass for T service.

Cliff Galante:

(2) Specifically for T Lift riders there will be a revised certification process that will require professional verfication of disability. Current certified passengers will be "grandfathered" and will have until December 31, 2007 to become recertified through the new process. Other changes include: Recertification of service eligibility every three years. Only persons with permanent disabilities will not be required to go through the professional verification process upon recertification (after recertifying the first time). Advanced reservation window to schedule trips will be reduced from 2 weeks to 3 days. Trips scheduled by persons certified as conditionally eligible will be determined on a trip by trip basis to determine if they meet the conditions of their eligibility. Also, persons who cancel 50% or more of their scheduled (non-subscription) trips with a minimum of 6 cancellations over a 90 day period would be subject to a 30-day suspension from service.

Cliff Galante:

(3) Regarding T fixed-route service - The honor system to qualify for the reduced fare has been eliminated. Specifically, students grades 10 -12, HINU students, persons age 60+, and persons with disabilities will be required to show proof of age, school enrollment or disability to qualify for the reduced fare. Persons with disabilities will need to show either a medicare card or a T Lift Photo Identification Card. The only people that qualify for a reduced fare where no proof is required are students K-9.

derald:

Some people live on very little money. It is not unusual to have only two or three dollars together to buy food. Now it costs three dollars (round trip) to buy two dollars of food, soon it will cost four dollars to buy two dollars of food. Can you please not raise the fare.

Cliff Galante:

Derald, yesterday evening the City Commission approved the fare increases. At this time to maintain the level of transit service provided for the remainder of this year as well as next, will require additional revenues dedicated to transit. Please keep in mind that transit fares only represent one source (small source) of funding needed to operate the service. Approximately 50% of revenue to support transit operations comes from Federal and State sources. The other 50% is made up from local taxes and fares. It is not our intent to place financial hardship on people, but rather to maintain service levels to help people.

bearded_gnome:

before you raise the price of T-lift rides and screen for disabilities, would you consider revamping your scheduling computer to organize the T-lift vans in a more effectient way? Most businesses would rejoice and never consider ways to decrease consumer demand.

Cliff Galante:

Dear Bearded_Gnome - The scheduling software you refer too,called "Trapeze", is designed to maximize the most efficient use of transit vehicles to serve as many people as possible. Many adjustments have been made to the software to maximize efficiency, however, demand for service is outstripping our available resources to provide service.

kat66044:

Are there any plans for an annual pass?

Cliff Galante:

Dear kat66044 - Yes there has been discussions about offering an annual pass. Stay tuned.

kolisach:

What can we as Lawrence citizens do to make a commuter line between Lawrence and Topeka a possibility?

Cliff Galante:

Dear kolisach - There have been some preliminary discussions about establishing a commuter line between Lawrence and Topeka. There is interest in both communities. However, there are a variety of challenges we face, the largest being available funding, to make this happen. In case you were not aware, last year we launched "Carpool Connection", an online carpooling matching service for commuters interested in ridesharing. So far, over 1,250 have registered on the site. It is a free service on the Lawrence Transit website at www.lawrencetransit.org. All you need to do is create a user-name and profile and it matches you up with people with similiar commutes. The service serves as a forum for people to link up. Other areas I am interested in futher exploring deal with promoting public/private partnerships to establish vanpools. I had much experience with this when I work in New Orleans where vanpooling was extremely popular.

Grammaton:

Mr. Galante,
After reading about the T's future, I wonder why advertisements are not allowed on the outside of the buses. It occurred to me that it may be prevented by the contract between the city and MV, and may not be immediately changeable -- but if I were a business, I would love to see my name on the side of a hard-to-miss moving vehicle, and I would pay for the advertising space. Why is no one paying for advertisements on the T buses? It would certainly help.

Cliff Galante:

Dear Grammation, The City is currently exploring the feasibility of bus advertising. As you are aware, the City currently does not advertise on the bus. It is my understanding that there was some valid reasons for that decision such as branding a new bus service to make sure people knew the service was able to them. To this day, people still confuse the City bus system with the KU on Wheels bus system for University students. Due to our recent budget challenges, there has been a shift of thinking on this issue. I will tell you based on the research I conducted talking with other communities that operate similiar sized transit systems in Kansas and other states that currently advertise, the revenue generated would likely be around $50,000 annually. This additional revenue will help, but will not solve our current budget challenges.

Moderator:

We're out of time. Cliff, thank you again for participating in our chat.

Cliff Galante:

Laura,

Thank you and thanks to people that submitted questions.

Information regarding the new service and policy changes is available on the transit website at www.lawrencetransit.org.

I hope the public understands that last weeks LJW article regarding transit service reductions are by no means a recommendation, but rather what citizens should expect if additional revenues are not dedicated to operate the transit system next year. I believe sometimes it is hard for people to understand just a dollar amount. What I was trying to illustrate to the City Commissioners and what the LJW picked up on is what $450,000 will buy citizens with regard to transit service.

Please keep in mind that 50% of cost to operate the transit system is covered by Federal and State sources. These funds are given to Lawrence specifically for transit purposes based on our population. If Lawrence did not have a transit system, then these funds would be redirected to other communities in Kansas that operate public transit service. The other half of funding needed to support transit operations is made up from local taxes, fares and bus pass sales. In terms of capital such as vehicle acquistion, the Federal Government pays for up to 83% of the cost as long as the vehicles are handicapped accessible. Finally, citizens may have noticed six new T Lift paratransit vehicles driving around that replaced older vehicles that fulfilled their useful lives. Those six vehicles were acquired with 100% state funds with no local funding required.

Cliff Galante:

Lastly, June 21st we will be joining other transit systems around the country in celebrating the 2nd annual Dump the Pump campaign. We will be offering a free ridership day on T fixed-route service to increase awareness about the many benefits of public transit and to encourage more transit usage.

Thanks again for supporting YOUR transit system.

Take care.

Comments

Nate Poell 7 years, 6 months ago

Rats, missed the chance to ask a question. Regardless, thanks Cliff and the Lawrence Transit folks. I just started riding the K-10 connector last week (which I understand the City of Lawrence supports). It's an excellent service, not to mention highly used. I have no doubt that a Lawrence-Topeka connector would be just as highly used, if not moreso.

Also, being completely selfish, I'd like to suggest a once- or twice-a-day bus between Lawrence and Baldwin City. I work there, as do several other Lawrencians I know (and probably many more Baldwinians that I don't know work in Lawrence). My co-workers and I try to carpool as much as possible, but sometimes our schedules don't match up and we all drive alone. Having a bus make a round-trip twice a day (around 7:30 or 8:00 am and 4:30 or 5:00 pm) would be really convenient. That said, I realize the T is stretched pretty thin and the resources are there to make it happen.

Regardless, kudos to the T!

jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

Well, clearly some do. I do, for one.

Not that you have to.

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