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Archive for Friday, October 6, 2006

Shift sought on bus stops

City wants to add more points, end ‘wave-down’ practice

October 6, 2006

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A friendly wave soon may not get you very far.

Since inception of the city's public transit system in 2000, riders of the T have been able to simply throw a hand in the air to flag down a bus anywhere along one of the system's eight routes.

City transit leaders, though, want to put an end to that practice and instead require all riders to go to a designated bus stop.

"We realize it may be inconvenient for some people, especially those people who live right on the route and are used to being able to just walk outside their door," said Cliff Galante, the city's public transit administrator. "But the goal of all this to keep the buses on schedule. That is very important."

Galante and his staff have evaluated the routes and found about 95 locations to add bus stops, in addition to the roughly 150 existing stops. Galante said the goal is to make sure there's a bus stop - not necessarily a shelter, though - at least every quarter mile. In heavy pedestrian areas, such as downtown, there likely will be a bus stop at every other block.

The transit department is taking public comment on the proposed policy and new bus stop locations. Galante said any change in the "wave-down" policy wouldn't take effect until after the new year.

Stephen Elliott, Lawrence, waits for a bus Thursday at a T stop downtown. The city is considering changing the rule so that riders can no longer flag down a bus at any point along the route and get on board.

Stephen Elliott, Lawrence, waits for a bus Thursday at a T stop downtown. The city is considering changing the rule so that riders can no longer flag down a bus at any point along the route and get on board.

Galante said eliminating the wave-down policy was becoming necessary as ridership on the bus system grows. The T is expected to provide about 500,000 rides this year. Ridership growth on the system is growing by about 10 percent to 15 percent per year.

Reaction to the idea was mixed among bus riders Thursday.

"I don't think it is a good idea," said Jerimiah Lyles, a Lawrence resident who rides the bus about four times per week. "They ought to be making it as convenient as they can to ride the bus. A lot of people are pressed for time. If you have to walk farther to catch the bus, it might make you late and you might actually miss the bus."

Others, though, said they could understand that the bus system has difficulties maintaining its schedules if buses have to stop multiple times in a block.

"I think you should have to go to a bus stop," said Katherine Anderson, a Lawrence resident who frequently rides the bus. "That seems to be the way it works everywhere else. It is not a limousine service that they're running."

Some city commissioners, though, said they would like to find a happy medium that would not make the change too burdensome on T riders.

Commissioner Boog Highberger said part of the T's purpose was to give people with disabilities an option other than riding the city's paratransit bus service, which provides door-to-door service for people with disabilities. Highberger said he'd like to look for a way to allow people with mobility problems the opportunity to continue waving down buses.

"I do have some concerns, but I also understand the necessity of being on time," Highberger said.

E-mail Public Transit Administrator Cliff Galante to comment on the proposed changes

Comments

Michael Stanclift 7 years, 10 months ago

It's about fricking time! I hate the stop and go they do all the time.

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Tanetti 7 years, 10 months ago

There's a reason it's called public transportation and not private. How about some personal responsibility? Everyone's pressed for time, so get to the stop on time rather than walking out the door and flagging down the bus, making everyone on board run late as well. A bus schedule isn't a suggestion, it's a schedule that riders count on to be accurate so they can get where they're going on time. As for mobility problems, people in larger cities have them too and manage to get to the bus stop -- while living in midtown KCMO, I saw people in wheelchairs and using walkers/canes at many of the stops. I regularly rode the T a few years ago (after walking 20 minutes to a bus stop for my route, from about 27th and Kasold to 23rd and Iowa) and the thing often was 10-15 minutes late because of things like this. I would think I'd missed it despite being early but it finally would show up. I hope they've improved on that since then. I live in Eudora now and would kill to be able to walk a block or two to a bus stop, but the closest one is on the eastern Lawrence city limits, so I'd have to drive there, and then what's the point?

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Kizzy 7 years, 10 months ago

Good for you alm77- we need more people like you. But there are people out there who are "captive" riders for one reason or another and depend on this service.

Running a bus sytsem is a tricky business. The system must be optimized to meet the need of the riders but also use the tax money wisely. People need to realize that the city isn't doing this in their own self-interest - it's for the good of the people.

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Smarmy_Schoolmarm 7 years, 10 months ago

There are an awful lot of people who have trouble getting around under their own steam, let alone walking an extra block or more.

Those without mobility problems have little to no idea what it's like for those who have.

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ControlFreak 7 years, 10 months ago

Some people need the T to be self sufficient. For one reason or another they cannot drive and the T gets them to the places they need to go.

Don't drive behind the bus and you won't stop when they do. It's really not that difficult if you drive smart.

Stop whining.

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alm77 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree, more people should ride it. If they decrease waiting time (more buses) and integrate with the university, the problem should be solved.

More people would ride if it were more convenient, more people riding means it's more self supported.

If you want to get your tax $$ back from the T, then use the service. Not only does my husband use it everyday, but we use it about half the time we shop downtown. That way we don't have to find and pay for parking, and for the kids, it's a fun thing to do.

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mom_of_three 7 years, 10 months ago

My kids utilize the "t'. It would be handy if some of the bus routes around the schools ran every 20 minutes after school let out.
My kids have no problems using the bus stops in our neighborhood, and they walk 4-5+ blocks to get there.

When I drive, I try not to follow busses because of the frequent stops. You can't avoid it on campus, but you can on most streets in Lawrence.

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jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

What drove me up the wall, especially on 6th st, is having one group of people standing at the stop, and then there was just a random yahoo standing a single block away, making no apparent attempt to get over to the rest of the group. Part of the reason the 6 route (9th and mass to 6th and walkarusa) was so hard to keep on time.

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NotASquishHead 7 years, 10 months ago

Thank goodness! I'm so sick and tired of having to wait for the traffic jam on 6th Street due to the buses stopping every 200 feet to pick some one up.

I don't agree with adding more stops, as I think it would do most people a lot of good to walk a block to the current stops. However, if it gets rid of the freeking wave down rides, then I'm up for working something out.

After they fix the wave down issue they need to start charging full price for rides rather than stacking their numbers with tons of free riders. Maybe then my tax dollars can be used somewhere productive.

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Kizzy 7 years, 10 months ago

Let's all wave Macon out of town. No one's whining except for you.

Maybe we should all just drive our cars, let the less fortunate never have a chance and suck the world dry of its resources.

Money shouldn't always the bottom line.

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armyguy 7 years, 10 months ago

I would ride the T to work if it was on time, I asked a few questions about it and found out it was unreliable as to the schedule. I need to be to work on time, so I drive. If it was were it on time I would reconsider riding.

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Kizzy 7 years, 10 months ago

It is not at all uncommon for new bus services to allow for waving/mid-block pick-ups in the beginning. They have to build ridership somehow and with only a few widely spaced stops, the T wouldn't have been able to do this. The system is acting responsibly this way by trying to minimize the funding gap (which all systems have, by the way) and get the taxpayers more for their money. After a while, when ridership is stable, the transit provider will focus more on service performance and making the service more convenient for its riders (adding more stops and curbing wave-ons).

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alm77 7 years, 10 months ago

Macon, I think I've told you this before. My family of 5 depends on the T. We have one car and my husband works 46-49 hours a week. He takes the T while I use the car. Many families are just as reliant on the T as we are.

Oh, and Kizzy, we're not "less fortunate" we're just mindful. We sold our second car because riding the T made way more sense.

If they want to cut down on waving they need a bus every 20 minutes instead of 40. That would keep them on time and give riders a break if they don't get to a stop in time.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

Macon,

Like I said, you don't have your facts straight. Why don't you research who is actually paying for it and then get to us.

I'll give you a hint: you're wrong.

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mysrachel 7 years, 10 months ago

The practice of waving down the bus has been allowed, as mentioned before, to make ridership appealing and easy in the beginning stages of implementation. If you want people to ride the bus, you must make it easy and appealing in the beginning, until people get used to it.

The addition of more stops is necessary at this point, if they are to eliminate the practice of waving down the bus, because on some stretches of the bus line, you can go for a mile or more between stops. This is a pretty long way to go between stops.

I would also like to point out that while the T serves all levels of society, it is not only here to service those "less fortunate" but also those people who are socially conscious with a mind for the future, those who don't want to contribute to traffic issues in Lawrence as well as those who just plain enjoy using the system. We're not all poor and incapable of driving, thank you.

I agree that more frequent routes would significantly improve the service that the T provides as well as increased ridership. I ride as much as I can, but sometimes, I just don't have the time to wait for a bus to come every 40 minutes. Hopefully, KU on Wheels will merge with the T to increase public transit services in Lawrence.

I think it is unfortunate that there are so many who are so critical of a system with which they are so unfamiliar. If the only real contact you have with the T is while you are sitting in your vehicle, frustrated that the bus has stopped to pick someone up, then you really don't have much on which to base an argument. I encourage those of you who are so critical of the T to ride it sometime. If you still hate it after riding it, I'll at least grant you some respect for trying.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

Macon,

You're just plain ignorant.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

It could be based on the amount of traffic on the street. On sixth st., barker ave. and other busy streets, stopping with a wave for a single rider every couple of blocks doesn't make much sense. But on streets like NJ, there isn't much traffic, and probably not all that many riders, so keep the wave-down policy.

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jonas 7 years, 10 months ago

One thing I should also note, many potential riders have absolutely no idea where, and more importantly: where not, to stand in order to allow the bus to stop for them safely and in a way that disrupts traffic as little as possible. For reference, it's not on the far side of an intersection, where cars will stack up behind and block the street.

This has been in the works since before I worked for the T, 1 and 3/4 years ago. They were talking about it in training, but the city was resistent to the idea until it got established. If it's enacted what it will probably mean in execution is that the driver will pick up a passenger once and tell them to get to the stop, but if it's a consistent problem, or if they pick a dangerous stop, they have the authority to simply not pick him up.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

@Pilgrim

How much are cab rides in Lawrence?

You don't know, or you wouldn't have made such an obviously ignorant statement.

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gccs14r 7 years, 10 months ago

I haven't looked at a bus schedule in a long time, but if they don't run more frequently during morning and evening rush and during lunch, they should. They should also run a reduced schedule in the late evening, rather than stop altogether. Lots of folks who would like to ride the bus can't, because they can't get home after work.

Having bus stops every 400m is a little close, but our street layout doesn't lend itself to a more standard 500m. It'd be nice if there were a bus stop within 500m of every address in town, but we'll have to build up the ridership to pay for that.

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enlightened 7 years, 10 months ago

@ Pilgrim

Sometime you should look up the definition of "Community" and decide if you want to be in one. I heard there is a great empty shack up in northern Alaska in the woods that needs a resident. You may want to check it out.

The next time you are driving around, keep in mind that roads you are traveling on, your contribution in taxpayer money only paid for a fraction of the construction and maitenance costs.

Yes, you also rely on others.

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enlightened 7 years, 10 months ago

@ Pilgrim

You are probably the same person that supports the war in Iraq and the $2Billion per day it costs taxpayers to help non-US citizens start a new county by borrowing money from China where we have a huge trade defecit. Rather than improving the standard of life in your own community you would rather see the money spent elsewhere.

In some circles you would be called an idiot.

You assume you will drive forever. I got news for you, no one does. When the time comes for you, lets see what you do, pay $18 in cab fare or a buck on your fixed income.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

My route is about half full every time I ride. Perhaps you could ride your "empty" route and then it wouldn't be empty any more.

But hey, if you'd rather pay $10 a day vs. $1, be my guest.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

OK Pilgrim,. I give up. I'm lost.

I could just drive my car, as could everybody if we're going to go that route. We'll all pay takes for more drives on the road then. Not to mention gas prices will rise because of increased demand.

Oh, I almost forgot how much it'll cost the individual out of my weekly paycheck, aside from taxes. There's $30 a week for gas (even for my four-cylinder), then the $80 a month for insurance, the $30 every two or three months for oil changes ... that brings me to at least $200, and that as long as I don't get a flat, wear out my shocks or gas prices don't skyrocket.

But please, enlighten us with your solution. What's that I hear?

Crickets.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

Again, I ask you, your solution is ...?

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sprango 7 years, 10 months ago

The two main problems facing the T (as I see it) is the 40-minute wait for a bus and the inability to transfer between some routes downtown without waiting for an entire cycle. If eliminating mid-block pickups helped fix those problems somehow, then it would be worth it. But when the bus is already quite late very often, adding ten minutes of walking to my trip isn't going to make me ride the T more. I ride the T downtown to work, but I don't ride it to KU because the transfer is awkward and often missed when the 8 departs before the 6 arrives.

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alm77 7 years, 10 months ago

Pilgrim, since when is using public transportation charity? I own a home, I pay taxes. Why the hell am I supposed to feel inferior to you because I use the system I pay for?

Oh, and I'm suprised nobody mentioned this, but it's been my observation that the people with "mobility problems" are always at the bus stops. It's generally the lazies that wave them down.

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alm77 7 years, 10 months ago

sprago, I wrote to Cliff Galante expressing my feelings about the 40 minute wait as well as promptness and you should too. His response was very encouraging.

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grubesteak 7 years, 10 months ago

@Pilgrim

Since you're so sure, why don't you investigate and get back to us. I'd be interested to hear the answer (hint: I already know, and you'd be blown away how much more it would cost taxpayers to do cab vouchers over the current plan).

Be my guest, be my guest ...

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alm77 7 years, 10 months ago

"Compared to the empTy" ---- So you complain that it's empty yet you complain when people ride it? What are you, a politician or something?

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roger_o_thornhill 7 years, 10 months ago

I love all of the complaints about the busses causing traffic problems. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the thousands of cars on the street (which increases every Aug. to June). Or all of the crappy, CRAPPY drivers (of which, I'm sure that there are some here). It sure couldn't be that the traffic flow is based on "historical patterns" rather than timed. And it is SO nice of some of you to consider the fact that not everyone is as well off as you (and it has little to do with work output, etc...). Having said all that, I think designated bus stops are the way to go. They are all over the place (at least on the routes). If anything, they might do well to have another transfer point besides downtown. That doesn't have anything to do with some of your "traffic" complaints, but it might help with bus trips taking less time. If you are at 6th and Wak it seems silly to go 4+ miles to downtown so that you can catch another bus to go to the south side shopping area (another 5+miles). It makes a round trip (of just travel time) take about an hour and fifteen minutes. That's just on the bus/waiting for transfer. By car, a trip from FSHS to say Target takes about 12-15minutes as opposed to the 40 minute (2)bus trip.

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Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

A practical and prudent decision.

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Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 10 months ago

At 11:48 am, Pilgrim posted "Compared to the empTy, I'll bet you could give all those folks vouchers for cab rides, and the city would still save millions." Pilgrim repeated this at 4:49. Then at 2:06 pm, Pilgrim wrote "...you're paying more than a dollar, believe me. How much are you paying in taxes to cover your share of the $2million a year the city kicks in after federal subsidies." Which doesn't make much sense on the surface. If the City spends only $2M/y on what Pilgrim calls the "empTy" in clever if nonsubstantive rhetoric, the most that could be saved would be, well, $2M/yr. But if Pilgrim gives that away in vouchers...OK, maybe Pilgrim really meant thousands. Or tens or even hundreds of thousands. But millions? Not even logical on the surface.

I was curious about what Pilgrim pointed out, though, that my tax dollars--paid to Lawrence as income/property/other tax--result in a usurious fee on my personal self. So, I did what I often do when someone (Pilgrim) provides a figure ($2M/y). I did math: $2M/y divided by 80,000 residents that contribute to that $2M/y (see macon47's 9:46 am post) comes to $25/resident-year. Huh! That doesn't seem so bad, not when 700 people/day are able to get around town on my $25/year! So for less than the cost of a cup of designer coffee at la Prima Taza each month, I am helping 700 people/day. (Not counting when I take the bus myself on evenings or Saturdays. Then, I'm actually paying for myself to ride the T! Cool!! My tax dollars at work!!!)

Oh, I forgot. Pilgrim is absolutely right--I ~am~ paying more than a dollar!! Why, every two weeks the City has usuriously usurped ALMOST a dollar and a nickel from me!

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enlightened 7 years, 10 months ago

@ Pilgrim

Compared to the empTy, I'll bet you could give all those folks vouchers for cab rides, and the city would still save millions.

What rock do you live under? Lets see if you can calculate simple math.

A one-way cab ride anywhere in Lawrence is $9. Call any cab company to confirm. According to the City, last year the T provided 440,000 trips. That does not sound MT to me. If we did away with the T as you suggest, it would cost Lawrence taxpayers $3,960,000 in cab fares. Based on figures also provided by the City, last year it cost about $2.7M to operate the T. Of that amount, more than half came from Federal and State funds. That means about $1.3M came from local property tax and fares collected. If you take out fares collected by transit patrons, you are looking at $1.1M in property tax used to support the service. Much less than $3,960,000 in cab fares. Remember to take the $1.1M in property tax and divide that amount by the total amount of taxpayers in Lawrence. Last I checked Lawrence has a population of about 80,000. Lets say only half of the residents are actual taxpayers (excluding children, etc.), that basically equates to $27.50 a year or $.53 cents a week per taxpayer to support the City's transit system. If my estimate is wrong and there are more taxpayers, then the cost per taxpayer would be even less.

If you knew anything about how Federal and State funding works you would quickly understand that this money is slated to be spent regardless (Read Transportation Bill passed by Congress and signed into legislation by President Bush). It is a matter of if you want that money spent here in Lawrence or if you would rather see your tax dollars spent in other communities in Kansas to support their public transportation systems. Personally, I prefer that my Federal and State tax dollars be used to benefit the community I live in.

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Katara 7 years, 10 months ago

Pilgrim,

Just curious...do you actually have any figures to back your assertions up on your CBA?

And I'm not understanding this assertion, "The scales tilt overwhelmingly in the direction of the streets, not the empTy.".

I wasn't aware it was an either/or type of situation.

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Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 10 months ago

Pilgrim responded to my post of last evening that a savings of millions is an exaggeration by falling back on the perspective-giving of the original post, then responding "So we are speaking here of that miniscule percentage of the population with legitimate mobility issues, not the whole town. Everybody else can fend for themselves, as they should." I am grateful for that perspective. It still doesn't add up to "millions."

Later, in response to the long-division concerning the City's support across the number of individuals, Pilgrim wrote that "there aren't 80,000 taxpayers in Lawrence. Your figure includes infants, grade school kids, and others who don't pay a dime in taxes...." This is very likely true. Yet the numbers aren't mine--they are the numbers macon47 used to argue in favor of Pilgrim's position. So the argument here isn't with my math--it's with macon47's figures. I'm happy to be proven incorrect when Pilgrim shows us more accurate figures than those macon47 used.

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gccs14r 7 years, 10 months ago

The real freebie is gasoline that doesn't cost $12 a gallon. If we had to pay what it really costs, everybody would be riding the bus.

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roger_o_thornhill 7 years, 10 months ago

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oh no. here comes the wrath.

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