Letters to the Editor

Bus crossroads

December 27, 2007


To the editor:

It's unfortunate Lawrence is still home to a vocal minority opposed to public transportation. Advanced public transit systems are an integral step towards building a community that is inclusive of all citizens, environmentally responsible, and forward-thinking. Travel to any great city in the world and you will find a signature public transit system. Travel to Boulder, Colo., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Madison, Wis., and you will find medium-sized peer cities that have left Lawrence in the dust in terms of providing public transit access. Lawrence is at a crossroads. The choice is minimizing public transit access like Johnson County or going the socially responsible route of building an even better, more useful and more efficient transit system.

The time has come for Lawrencians to put more value on civic consciousness and less on consumer impulses. Like education, arts and other components of any vibrant community, public transportation systems pay off in social currency instead of profit in the city coffers. We should be looking for ways to expand and enhance the T to gain more skeptical riders instead of finding flimsy excuses for terminating a highly useful and important city service.

Tom Kolbeck,



geekin_topekan 10 years, 5 months ago

One way to spark interest in public transportation is to follow Madison,Wi.'s steps.Make parking impossible anywhere near where you want to be.Downtown and Campus,hospitals and city buildings all have no free parking within 5 miles.$10/day is the standard parking fee in public garages and lots.Residential streets have two hour limits that are HEAVILY patrolled and ticketed.It's almost scandalous.But,it almost forced me to take the bus!!Cheaper than getting towed or paying up $50/wk for parking. But the most remarkable thing about Madison,'s bus system.There are many.First,when the snow flies the city concentrates on clearing the bus routes.Second is the hours of operation.4am till Midnight every 1/2hr.Third,the price.When I was there it was 1.00/peak,75c/all other hours and for $1.50 you could buy an all-day pass.Unlimited rides for the day. The First year I lived there,didn't have a car.Didn't need one.Wasn't missing one either. The Second time,I rode the bus because of the parking situation.I couldn't go downtown for shopping,work or anything without either a)rushing to avaid getting towed,or b)if I did find a spot close to my home(free unlimited parking)I wouldn't give it up unless absolutely necessary because it would get swooped up and then you gotta drive around and around... Expand the "T"!More hours,rediculously high parking fees and a 25 minute MAXIMUM wait for any given route.Exept Sundays,they ran every hour.

BigPrune 10 years, 5 months ago

T bus is sitting at the crossroads, believe it's sinking down.

buh,du,dut,du, dit dow.....

justforfun 10 years, 5 months ago

Sorry Tom, Saying "It's unfortunate Lawrence is still home to a vocal minority opposed to public transportation." The fact of the matter only a small minority of people use it. Down with the MT!

Speakout 10 years, 5 months ago

I am sure you all are aware that according to the most vocal on this board, it is Bill Clinton's fault and the Democratic party. While your at it, I'll bet Hilary has something to do with the T. Couldn't be Bush, he hasn't enough sense to do anything right. I hope a tornado never destroys Lawrence like the hurricane did to Lousiana and Texas. The same ol same ol on this board and no one comes up with better ideas. We sit here and rat on what we have but haven't the intellect to find or imagine something new. We allow the same people to make our decisions day after day without really getting answers or solutions. It could be that we need something new in the country like real leadership, imagination, forward thinking, problem solving, diversity and of course common sense. On the other hand we could preemtorily attack a country and get mired down in their politics and ethnic problems without an plan of exit. Rah Rah, good ol American thinking. Lets change that!!

camper 10 years, 5 months ago

Not everybody uses the roads. Though it may be 99% of us, it is not everybody.

There are also a good # of people who use the roads only as a passenger. Are they to be included as road user?

oldvet 10 years, 5 months ago

City population / Metro Statistical Area population:

Madison - 223K / 543K

Ann Arbor - 114K / 344K

Boulder - 91K / 280K

Lawrence - 80K / 112K

I think New York City has a great public transportation system also, but let's not compare ourselves to cities that are much larger in area population than we are...

jasonthesane 10 years, 5 months ago

One does not have to "use" roads to benefit from their presence. Even if you do not own or operate a motor vehicle you most likely purchase goods which are transported over the roads. You may also receive mail service to or near to your residence. You may have need for fire department, ambulance, or law enforcement response. Until somebody perfects a Star Trek style transporter our roads are arguably our most important public asset and demand a significant public investment.

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says:

The point is that we shouldn't judge the notion of a public transit system based on the current incarnation

I don't see anyone judging the notion of public transportation at all. There are many comments about public transportation working in larger cities, but not in Lawrence because it's just not big enough. Only 800 people ride the empTy a day which means on average there are only 5 people or less on the bus at any time (considering that's 1600 trips, with 320 route halves (160 circuits each with a northbound/southbound or eastbound/westbound half), but people usually only ride for a portion of the circuit, and not the whole thing beginning to end, and there are a few buses that must surely be loaded at peak hours, so you are most likely going to see less than 5 people on most buses http://www.lawrencetransit.org/faq.shtml).

Now there's nothing wrong with public transportation, and it doesn't have to turn a profit to be successful, but running empty buses because some people hope more will ride them is stupid. It's a bus system, not a subway, it's not hard to quickly add routes and expand hours if the need arises.

toefungus 10 years, 5 months ago

The T is too expensive for our town. Perhaps a much smaller service is in order, and use vehicles that are less polluting. Bicycles come to mind.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 5 months ago

"Any debate about public transportation is useless as long as there are self-absorbed jackasses mucking it up by demanding they not have to pay for anything they don't directly use."

I don't really feel that you are accurately summarizing the problem I and many others have with the T. It isn't that we don't want our tax dollars used for something we don't directly use ourselves... it is using our tax dollars to fund something that almost NO ONE uses.

I don't even want the T completely disbanded. I just want all of the routes that have no riders to be shutdown and the operating times limited to peak times. If at some point there is enough interest in expanding routes or operating times the city could then look into an expansion. But starting out with a widely available but unused system is asinine.

The money could be better spent maintaining our roads which are in pretty bad shape...

matahari 10 years, 5 months ago

The elderly on bikes? (yes all baby boomers are soon to be getting their discounted senior coffees at Mc D's..and btw, when you all can't afford gas anymore, you'll wish you had the bus...and as for Dolly PP

have a horse. Lots of people have horses. Why aint there sum dad gum hitchin posts in town?

Get on your high horse and ride it to town, it's not illegal, can't wait for this picture!


jasonthesane 10 years, 5 months ago

JackRipper, it was not my intention to imply that mass transit (public transportation) does not benefit the public at large or is not worthy of public investment. I was responding to camper's suggestion that not everyone uses roads. Public transportation can be of great value in reducing congestion and improving the efficiency of our road systems. It is obviously not practical to continue increasing the capacity of our roadways forever. At some point we will be forced into higher-occupancy vehicles to maintain traffic flow.

matahari 10 years, 5 months ago

oh yea, about bikes..it's great that you can plop them right on the bus, and then ride to your destination if it's not on the route! I no longer take the bus, but I used to and will be really diSappointed and sad for some of our citizens that rely on it for work, other necessities or what not. There may be a time when I'll need it again, (or some of you all will) and you won't be calling me for a ride! Go ahead and pay $10 for a taxi! Good on ya

selfish, short sighted folk indeedy

Richard Heckler 10 years, 5 months ago

Lincoln,Nebraska/Columbia,Mo/ Stillwater,Ok /Austin,Tx/ Ames,Iowa/Iowa City.Iowa/Burlington,Vt / all have public transportation.

Public Transportation,Air,bus and train travel are subsidized with our tax dollars. All of the above are considered essential to economic growth.

Lawrence is now billed as a retirement community. Tourism is high on the list. Public Transportation again is essential.

Then again Wall Street,EXXON-Mobil,Chevron-Texaco,healthcare industry,military industrialized complex,nuke power,coal power,our streets,city hall and last but not least the failing home loan industry are all subsidized by our tax dollars in spite of deregulation. The free market is an illusion.

camper 10 years, 5 months ago

Jasonthesane. I was only trying to infer that not quite everyone uses the roads...atleast on a regular basis. There are some who do not own a car or otherwise walk or bike most places. Some in this group will sometimes use the roads as a passenger.

I agree with many points on both sides of this discussion. But I tend to favor keeping the T around. I'm often behind one route on my way to work in the morning between 6th & Iowa and about Mass street. On average I see about 3-5 people board the bus. Looks mostly like people going to work.

Godot 10 years, 5 months ago

This is great. The pro-T minority who will defend this failed attempt at public transportation to the very end have realized they cannot win the argument on fact or logic, so they resort to the guilt trip. Classic.

If that doesn't work, they will trot out the children who will give personal tesimonials of how the T saved them from abuse and neglect.

Those who planned the T made several monumental errors in judgement; admit it, fix it, and go on.

The Guilt Trip: a pity ride on the MT.

camper 10 years, 5 months ago

I wasn't tryin to put a guilt trip on anyone.

blackwalnut 10 years, 5 months ago

The T has not failed. It may need to be changed to make it more usable for more people. That means a greater commitment from the city government - not less.

We can afford the T. We cannot afford a several-million-dollars giveaway of tax dollars every time a friend of a commissioner dreams up a new project and extends a hand to the mayor and city commission.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence T Bus = chocolate rabbit.

Pretty on the outside, empty on the inside.

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says:

...smaller buses is shortsighted if we want the T to have growth capacity as Lawrence grows.

kansas778 (Anonymous) says:

...running empty buses because some people hope more will ride them is stupid. It's a bus system, not a subway, it's not hard to quickly add routes and expand hours if the need arises.

It is also not hard to unretire the bigger buses or acquire more.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 5 months ago

"Where are you getting your data?"

There are articles that publish usage data in this very newspaper. That is how I am getting my data, it would be nice if all of the proponents of the T would bother to read the facts... it isn't like it is inconvenient since they are published on the same site they spend all day posting on.

What is even worse than the fact that no one uses it is that almost a third of the rides on the T people aren't even paying for!!!

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