Letters to the Editor

Who rides the T?

December 21, 2007


To the editor:

I read about the proposed cuts to the city bus system. Before I moved to Lawrence, I lived in Jamaica Plain, Mass. I didn't have a car and rode the bus to work every day. Halfway there our governor, Mike Dukakis, got on the bus to go to his office. We all waved, and he nodded. If the people who run the town take the bus to work, you can be sure of a good bus system. Ask them if they take the bus before you vote for them.

Louie E. Galloway,



kansas778 7 years ago

The people who run the town don't take the bus, and the rest of the people don't ride it either. No one rides the bus, so sell the buses off and put the money to better use.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Excellent point Louie Galloway. Most other big 12 college have public transportation. So do "Green" college towns of which Lawrence is not listed.

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

The City only owns the KU ParkandRide busses which are Packed to the gills at times.The rest are owned by the bus company who is based out of Ca.

freeordie 7 years ago

Come on, we HAVE to keep the T going, cuz, gee, I see a good one or two people packed into those buses. Sometimes. This supposedly "hippie" town is just that, a bunch of hipster posers who baste their tofu turkeys with patouchli oil but sure wouldn't be caught dead riding the T to pick up their hemp bundles.

Wilbur_Nether 7 years ago

Huh. I ride the T a couple of times a month. Happy to have it as a service I can use. Happier to have it provide a service to others who can't/don't drive for whatever reasons. Would like to see it stay with expanded hours and routes. But if they're going to cut it two or more hours/day and Saturdays, they might as well not even pretend they're trying simply eliminate it.

budwhysir 7 years ago

No one rides the bus, if they want to cut costs, buy smaller busses, run 2 of them, and put up a hotline so people can call when they want a ride, then the bus wont be running around empty all day.

Its all in the hotline people just set it up they will call, kind of like a taxi only bigger, after all bigger is better now adays

blackwalnut 7 years ago

I often ride the T and I disagree with people who say nobody rides it. On any ride across town several people get on and off, so if you see three people in it when it passes by that doesn't mean only three people rode it on that route. Some people only ride for a short distance, or get off to transfer to another bus. At certain times of the day the T is nearly full, as in only two or three seats are empty.

On any day on the T you'll see people going to the university, to work, teenagers going downtown (to spend their money, I guess without the T I would save over $100 a month right there!), kids going to the pool or the skate park, getting on and off at a grocery store, to doctor appointments... if you chat with the riders you'll see how they use the T and why they appreciate it.

When it was convenient for me to ride the T to work, I did. it kept one more car out of the overcrowded parking lot, reduced the traffic by 1 car, and reduced emissions. That alone was my reason for riding the T. I'm not the only one I've seen on the T who had other transportation but chose to reduce my impact on the infrastructure by riding it, but I'd say I'm in the minority. Most of the people riding wouldn't have another way to accomplish that particular trip if the T were not available.

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

Those who support the T know it's incredibly inefficient and very wasteful. They either want it because someone else (the taxpayer) is footing the bill for their transportation cost or because it fits into their desire for a collective, socialist utopian society.

blackwalnut 7 years ago

I agree that when they replace some buses they could consider to replace them with smaller ones. But would that really save all that much fuel? And is it practical, to run smaller buses on routes where a couple of times a day a larger bus runs nearly full?

You could all be complaining about the KU Park and Ride buses too, because at times they are nearly empty.

blackwalnut 7 years ago

People don't seem to understand that $10 gas is not that far away.

Peak oil is already here. The definition of peak oil is rising demand and diminishing supply, and it's here.

blackwalnut 7 years ago

settingtherecordstrait says "a collective, socialist utopian society..."

Now that's a stretch. Public transportation is communism now, is that it? Is that what you think about Chicago, New York, Tokyo, San Francisco, Paris...

I suppose public education is also a communist notion because not everybody uses it - is that right?

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

You miss my point. T lovers either want taxpayer-subsidized transportation (welfare for the poor, middle class and rich) or they want further "progress" toward a society where everyone is dependent on the government for everything (education, health care, child care, transportation, etc.

jafs 7 years ago

While I support the idea of public transportation, I think the T services could be vastly improved. For one thing, the hub system is extremely inefficient and time-wasting - in order for us to use the bus system, we would spend about 45 minutes (it takes 10-15 to drive); First go downtown, wait 20 minutes for a connecting bus, and then go to work. This makes no sense.

Also, the tremendous inefficiency of the buses themselves is disturbing - they get about 6-9 mpg, according to Chris Galante.

And, as is always mentioned, they are often quite lighlty used, especially during the day.

The above items combined mean that a much larger group of people need to use the system for it to be a more environmentally sound alternative.

I would say that a grid system wherein buses travel along the major north-south and east-west streets would be more efficient - one could take a bus west on 9th St. and transfer to one on Iowa for example.

This might encourage more use - we would have used the buses except for the problem of the hub-based system.

Cutting back on lightly used times/routes is not a bad idea, as well.

penguin 7 years ago

First off the city does not at all own any of the KU Park and Ride Buses and MV Transportation does not own any of the other new KU buses. They are all owned by the University in part by a huge student fee increase that was passed last year. In addition, there were other financial arrangements made by the University.

This year, MV is the servicer of the contract for the buses, but they do not own them. Just like they do not own the buses that the city runs (because they are the service provider for the city too).

I find all this calling for a merger oh just so funny. I remember a few years back when there was a desire for this to happen (right after the city started up the T). The city promptly responded by stonewalling and laughing at KU on Wheels. However, now that they are in a tight spot and taxpayers are sick of their transportation boondoggle and the merger seems like a good idea. Each student at KU now pays $36 per semester just for the buses (whether they ride them or not) and they would be insane to accept any offer from the city. Because any merger would eventually stray from the basic beliefs of KU on Wheels "to get students to and from class." Inevitably the city in their infinite wisdom would want to change routes to serve their needs at student expense. There is no reason to believe that KU on Wheels should even be involved with this crumbling system.

jafs 7 years ago

The idea which is attractive in theory is this:

Instead of all owning cars, with the associated fuel, maintenance, and repair costs and hassles, we could use a communal system with a fixed cost that, if structured correctly, would be less environmentally damaging.

When I lived in Brooklyn, NY and worked in Manhattan, I took the subway each way - it was reliable, safe, and easy to use, and provided me with hassle-free (relatively) transportation for a fixed cost.

I never had to fill up a car, arrange and pay for routine maintenance or repairs, find parking spaces, etc.

Also, there is something different about a community when people walk more, or use public transportation - it creates more of a feeling of community than when people are isolated in their own little vehicles.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"Also, there is something different about a community when people walk more, or use public transportation - it creates more of a feeling of community than when people are isolated in their own little vehicles."

Which explains why the many sociopaths on this forum are so opposed to the T.

penguin 7 years ago

oops actually just checked and the city owns the Park and Ride because of a federal grant that they helped procure. However, they do not fund any operations for the buses...KU on Wheels does.

Although my previous statements in regards to MV are still true...they do not own those buses.

pace 7 years ago

That's a good letter. Good point. People who support the t are all alike. They are smart, wise, farseeing, attractive, prudent, powerful, kind and good. Unhappily all the supporters also think alike. It is like one giant consciousness. They all think people who insist on pigeonholing people are just a bit silly, well they are kind.

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

We're not talking about KU on wheels(which is a far superior service btw)the article is about the "T" system.

kcwarpony 7 years ago

Pretty sure it's not the same person. Louis Galloway was raised here in Lawrence. Matter of fact, I believe it was his old house that was torn down on New York street recently. As a kid, whenever I saw Louis coming my way, I would immediately hightail it in the other direction. I still would, even today.

The letter writer, Louie E. Galloway, says he's moved here from Jamaica Plain, Mass. Poor guy has probably had a few people look at him funny when they hear his name...

beatrice 7 years ago

Who rides the T? Why, Mrs. T, of course.

I pity the fool who doesn't know this.

beatrice 7 years ago

"Make the T self-supporting or cut it."

Should we apply that to all services? Make public school self-supporting or cut it. Make the library self-supporting or cut it. Make the GI Bill, Medicare, Post-office, war in Iraq, road-repair, public golf courses, etc... self-supporting or cut them too.

Unfortunately, not all government and city run programs are self-supporting. This doesn't mean the program can't be tightened to make it more efficient and cost effective, but the odds of it being truly self-supporting are virtually impossible.

tvc 7 years ago

I can't recall seeing anyone on the T that I knew was homeless. I find the homeless more frequently at laundromats. I think you would be surprised to see how many people do ride the bus.

Ralph Reed 7 years ago

kansas778 (Anonymous) writes: "The people who run the town don't take the bus, and the rest of the people don't ride it either. No one rides the bus, so sell the buses off and put the money to better use."

I agree with only the first part of your comment up to the first comma. In my opinion, the rest of it is fallacious.

/****/ penguin (Anonymous) writes:

"I remember a few years back when there was a desire for this to happen (right after the city started up the T). The city promptly responded by stonewalling and laughing at KU on Wheels."

This is true penguin. Only I think it was political rather than simply the city stonewalling. The system would be better run if both were under a single contractor. It does not make sense to have two bus companies in a town the size of Lawrence.


SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) writes:

"You miss my point. T lovers either want taxpayer-subsidized transportation (welfare for the poor, middle class and rich) or they want further "progress" toward a society where everyone is dependent on the government for everything (education, health care, child care, transportation, etc."

STRS. You're making a gross generalization and extending that to a point that doesn't make sense.

Please explain why all "T lovers" want taxpayer subsidized transportation. If the contract is written correctly, then the city (taxpayers) won't be out any money. I don't see from where you're getting the information to make that statement.

Also, how does a desire to see public transportation succeed in Lawrence extend to wanting everyone to be dependent upon the government for everything? We already are for a lot of things: public education; hospitals; medicare for the elderly; social security and so on. The list is enormous. Again, I don't see where you're getting the information to make that statement. Please elucidate.

/*****/ The primary thing is that the routes are poorly designed and must be restructured. I agree with jafs in that there should be major N/S and E/W routes that run on a regular schedule, perhaps 23rd, Iowa, 9th, 6th, 19th, a circle on Vermont or Tennssee and Connecticut frrom 6th to 23rd making a loop through Haskell like it does now.

Finally, when (if) the contract is rewritten, it must be rewritten to benefit the city primarily and not let the contractor walk away with a pocket full of change.

/**/ (I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?)

SloMo 7 years ago

jas - I wrote to the management of the T a few years ago with exactly that proposal (a grid routing system instead of a hub) and got a really nice little form letter back. I don't think they're interested in making it successful. Or maybe they're just not very imaginative.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years ago

SloMo I think some people in the city government don't want the buses to succeed. They haven't promoted it effectively and the routes should be on a grid. I think they did it just to get the federal money and to shut up those asking for it. Then set it up to fail, oh my, it just doesn't work. Too bad, so sad.

Kyle Miller 7 years ago

Everytime i see a T bus out and about.... there is VERY limited if any people on them. Seems like a HUGE waste of money being burned up in fuel!

Eride 7 years ago

"I think you would be surprised to see how many people do ride the bus."

Actually no, I wouldn't be. The rider statistics are published (by this very newspaper) and I believe last year there was only a little over 400,000 fares with a substantial portion of them discounted or free. That shows that there are NOT a lot of people riding the T and definitely not enough people to warrant the amount of busses we have running and the hours of operation.

I have no problem keeping the T running, but I want the fares raised, the routes cut down to only the most used and the hours of operation cut to peak times. If at some point there is enough support for opening an additional route or extending hours for a route then that can occur but right now the whole system is a rediculous drain on resources.

Why do we have an unused public transportation system when we don't even have decent roads?

tvc 7 years ago

As a rider and a citizen, I enjoy seeing all the people on their way to school and work. I am pleased to live in a city that provides an opportunity for people to better themselves and their community. The T also provides independence for people with disabilities.

I wish all the people complaining that the T is empty would shut up and ride!

deskboy04 7 years ago

The T is good. Coal plants in western Kansas are bad. Moving game to Arrowhead bad. Eating meat is bad. Tree hugging is good. I only eat organic food. I am opposed to the south Lawrence trafficway. I am worried about my carbon footprint.

Charles L Bloss Jr 7 years ago

I bet dukakis was full of dukakied ideas too. Thank you, Lynn

Godot 7 years ago

someone wrote that the T hasn't been promoted properly.

I do not believe that a service that has to be "promoted," or advertised, is a service that was needed in the first place.

Godot 7 years ago

Let me clarify that last post; the phrase should be "government service."

justforfun 7 years ago

According to another article 46% of the people that have a income of below $15000 per year. That's who!

BigPrune 7 years ago

Make the city manager, the city hall staph, the city commission ride the bus to work if they live in Lawrence. Then get rid of the city cars and trucks including the Toyota Pius. Have a city hall late night run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Fantastico!!! Great idea Louie.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"Yet these same supporters will whine about selfish people driving an SUV."

The buses get about the same gas mileage that a full-size (usually single-occupant) SUV gets, and despite the assertions to the contrary, on average there is considerably more than one rider at any given time. They use about the same amount of fuel that even three relatively efficient cars (20 mpg city) get. So even at current usage levels, which everyone agrees should be raised, the bus system is still very likely using less fuel than the private vehicles that would be required to replace it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

" A full size bus is several times the size and mass of an SUV."

Each is designed for very different purposes. The city's buses are designed to carry large numbers of people, with few amenities, and very poor acceleration, using the smallest and most efficient engine that can effectively do the job. SUV's are designed for maximum comfort with considerably larger engines than are minimally required to propel them at normal speeds.

So clearly, the gas mileage per occupant of a single occupancy (which is the most common # riding in them) SUV is considerably less than that of a bus with even relatively low ridership.

No one denies that it's easy to spot one the T buses with one, or even no, passengers. But if you follow a bus along its entire route, it's likely quite rare that there are no riders, and most common that there are several riders, especially at peak times, on all of the routes.

Does that mean that this is a successful bus system? No, as swan_diver accurately points out, this is a system that was designed to be inadequate from its inception. But it's a big leap to conclude that a poorly designed system means that we should have no system at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"By Combining the T with K.U. and the school district, the T just might pay for itself."

If you mean that it'll need no contributions from the city coffers, that'll likely never happen. Fares need to be kept low enough so that low-income folks can afford to ride it, and to encourage those with higher incomes to use it rather than driving a single-occupancy vehicle, which is considerably more expensive to provide services for than the bus system is.

But combining with K.U. and getting the school district to encourage its use are great ideas.

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