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Archive for Sunday, March 23, 1997

SURVEY SHOWS MANY FAVOR A BUS SYSTEM

March 23, 1997

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Three out of four people responding to the questionnaire published in the Journal-World and those interviewed at random by Journal-World reporters favored a fixed-route public transportation system.

It's time to put a public transportation plan in gear in Lawrence.

That was the response from three out of every four people who participated in a Journal-World public transportation survey.

Out of the 311 respondents to the survey, 239 people favored a fixed-route bus system in the city.

However, the 65 people who opposed it said very few people would use it and it would be too costly to taxpayers.

"I think it is a ridiculous waste of money," said Carol Randel, who works in the office of a local flower shop and lives in far eastern Lawrence.

"I just don't think the city and the taxpayers can afford for empty buses to run around town," Randel said. "I just see empty buses going by a lot. I see it in Topeka and Kansas City and everywhere else."

Another opponent is Lois Schneider, who lives on the west side of Lawrence and is a landlord.

"I don't feel that there are enough people who would use a five-route bus system to pay for the cost," she said. "I don't think Lawrence can support that."

However, supporters said there is a need. And some suggested various methods of funding the service besides taxes.

Donald Parke, of 1900 west 31st street said, "Sure I think Lawrence should have a routed bus system." He thought one dollar would be a fair price.

Donnis Graham, 1300 New Hampshire, said : "A bus system for all, sure, I'd pay a dollar but I don't think there are many people that could afford it."

"The city should have been looking at it five years ago," said Carol Collier, who lives a few blocks from downtown and works at the Bead Trader, 1017 1/2 Mass.

"I think it's needed right now. As far as funding, a lot of revenue could be raised by selling advertising on the inside and outside of the bus," Collier said.

She also said that in addition to tax revenue, businesses that have drop-off sites along the fixed routes, including the factory outlet malls, could be charged a modest fee.

Collier would ride the bus.

"I know a lot of people who don't have reliable transportation," she said. "So there's been a strong need for it for many years."

Another supporter is Norman Forer, a Kansas University professor emeritus of social welfare, who lives in northwest Lawrence.

He said the system would probably need to provide an incentive to ride the bus initially until riders could see advantages of public transit, such as no parking problems, less pollution and getting along without a car or only one car.

"I respond to it as a typical concerned and community-minded person who understands not everybody can afford a car," Forer said. "And if we accept them as part of our community it is the logical thing to do. It also applies to older people and disabled people."

Linda McKay, who lives in the central part of the city, also favors a fixed-route bus system.

McKay, an unemployed biochemist, said she walks and bicycles now and would use a bus during bad weather.

"I think we need public transportation, a fixed bus route," McKay said. "It would be great if the university cooperated, but we need it whether they do or not."

Chalermsri Chantasingh, a KU graduate student who lives in south-central Lawrence, said the city should cooperate with KU and take over the KU on Wheels system.

She said students with identification would pay nothing, while other citizens would pay 50 cents a ride.

With her survey, she enclosed a brochure for the Blacksburg Transit system in Blacksburg, Va., the home of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Its city-wide routes operates 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays. It has decreased service during breaks and the summer.

"I think that with the size of Lawrence, it should be able to support a good transportation system," she said. "I have seen many old ladies who have complained around here."

Another supporter is Mary Ann Kieffer, who lives in southwestern Lawrence.

"I don't think we need a bus system for everybody. We do need it for the elderly and the handicapped and the people with low incomes," she said.

Instead of spending money for sister city projects and artwork, the city should use those funds for a bus system, she said.

"We should use the extra for helping people who are less fortunate to get around the city and to get to their jobs, rather than subsidize these cultural things," she said. "The priority is to get the people who have low incomes to and from their jobs."

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