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Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 1993

TRANSPORTATION IDEAS COULD LOWER COSTS

December 1, 1993

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Three proposals for spending $100,000 on public transportation next year have a common destination

Three groups say they can expand Lawrence's public transportation to the general public by spending $100,000 of city money.

The groups -- the Douglas County Community Transportation Coordinating Council, A-1 City Cab and a partnership of the Lawrence Bus Co. and Specialized Transportation Services Inc., of Merriam -- want money set aside by Lawrence city commissioners for coordinating current transportation services.

Details of the proposals have not been released, but group representatives say Lawrence residents next year could pick up the phone, call for a ride and be driven to desired destinations at reduced costs.

"It's not a citywide, full public transportation system," said Pat Weaver, chair of the coordinating council and an associate scientist at Kansas University's Transportation Center. "We feel like it's taking what we have now and maximizing that as much as we can."

What Lawrence has now are several independent services: KU on Wheels, Independence Inc., Cottonwood Inc., Douglas County Senior Services and A-1 City Cab. Commissioners want to expand service next year past specialized populations and into the general public.

Weaver said the council's proposal requested the full $100,000 grant, to finance extended hours, office space, computer equipment, accounting services and a new "brokerage coordinator." The coordinator would consolidate residents' requests and schedule an available service to pick them up.

The service would "fill in the gaps," Weaver said, particularly for low-income residents who have "fallen through the cracks" and can't afford cars or other transportation.

Specialized's request, in conjunction with the Lawrence Bus Co., also would coordinate services, said Roxanna White, the company's general manager.

The company proposes a combined system of on-demand fixed routes. Vans could respond to peoples' calls for specific trips to work or the doctor's office, while scheduled routes also could take people to shopping areas.

The company started a similar plan in Johnson County a few years ago, White said.

Rides likely would cost less than $2.50 each way, owner Michael Jones said, and several "subscription" routes could focus on specific locations, such as taking six employees to work at Hallmark Cards.

"It's really quite innovative," White said. "It really could be a model for cities this size."

A-1 City Cab's plans stretch beyond the $100,000 grant. In a statement, Paul Shackelford, company president, said service would concentrate on elderly, disabled and low-income residents, with A-1 contributing $30,000 of its own for budgeted expenses.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said he had not yet set a date for commissioners to consider the requests.

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