Archive for Thursday, February 20, 1997

PUBLIC TRANSIT TO GET PUBLIC HEARING NEXT MONTH

February 20, 1997

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Mayor John Nalbandian said public transportation would get a public hearing at city hall sometime next month.

The ongoing debate about public transportation will hit the public before the city's general elections.

City commissioners will schedule a public hearing during an upcoming commission meeting to discuss alternatives for public transportation in Lawrence, Mayor John Nalbandian said.

The city currently finances a coordinated van service -- Douglas County Area Transportation -- that operates much like a taxi service, with rides scheduled up to a day in advance.

Commissioners have hired a consultant to come up with alternatives, ranging from retaining the current van service to starting a full-blown bus system in cooperation with Kansas University.

Nobody knows what will come out of the discussion, but Nalbandian said some direction would be needed before voters go to the polls April 1. Three of five commission seats are up for election.

Commissioners currently are undecided about which way to go; some want to take the issue to a public vote, while others would prefer to move ahead.

"In essence, it's going to cost more money," said Fred Sherman, the city's transportation planner. "The big question is, where will that money come from?"

Commissioners expected to receive a report about detailed options for transit systems Tuesday night, but the city's consultants had not yet completed the document. Instead, commissioners received several questions that could help guide them toward a decision.

Sherman said staffers would distribute appropriate documents and other information about the options prior to the public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. Nalbandian expects it to occur sometime in March.

This week, commissioners did hear from Grey Montgomery, KU's student body president, concerning the ongoing debate. He favors having the city start up a five-bus fixed route system, with the intent of combining and expanding the system with KU on Wheels sometime down the road.

"We feel that ignoring these alternatives will leave both the city and students worse off as financial constraints may lead us to cutting some existing routes that benefit both the city and university students," Montgomery said. "However, by sharing the burden for providing this service, the city and students both can have their needs met in a more financially efficient way."

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