Archive for Friday, July 20, 2007

Use of city buses down

Ridership declines as operational costs go way up

July 20, 2007


"T" facing funding shortage

Short about $450,000 in funding, the T may shut down two hours earlier in 2008. Enlarge video

Cliff Galante, the city's public transit administrator

Cliff Galante, the city's public transit administrator, discuss what improvements to the T citizens have asked for.

For the first time in its six-year history, the T - the city's bus system - is on pace to see a decline in ridership.

Through June, the city's fixed-route bus system has provided 207,003 rides, which is a 2.7 percent decrease for the same period a year ago.

With gasoline prices still creating pain for motorists, the decline in ridership is a head-scratcher, said Cliff Galante, the city's public transit administrator.

"I don't know exactly what the cause of that is," Galante said.

It is just one of many unanswered questions hanging over the Lawrence Public Transit System these days.

At City Hall, the chief question is how to pay for what is expected to be increasing costs for the transit system in future years, as the entire fleet of buses will need to be replaced and the price the city pays for fuel likely will rise dramatically.

"I think we need to try to keep this system for people who really need it, but I'm really concerned in the out years - 2009, 2010, 2011 - that it could get prohibitively expensive for us," Commissioner Rob Chestnut said.

Merger talks

The solution, Chestnut said, may be a long-discussed merger between the Kansas University transit systems and the T. Chestnut said he would like the city to have a merged system by 2009.

Both Galante and Danny Kaiser, assistant director of parking and transit for KU, said such a timeline could be possible, but it would take a significant acceleration in the pace of talks between the city, KU and student groups. And both executives said they could not guarantee a merger would reduce costs for the city.

In fact, a report commissioned by the city and KU last year concluded that savings likely would not occur as the result of a merger. Consultant Dan Boyle recommended the city spend at least an additional $500,000 per year on public transit to address needs related to aging buses and an inadequate maintenance facility.

New buses needed

The city also currently spends $1.60 per gallon for diesel to fuel its buses, thanks to an operating contract that put a cap on fuel costs to the city. That contract expires at the end of 2008, and the new contract is not expected to have such a fuel cap.

About the same time, the city will need to buy new buses. The city's fleet of 12 buses is expected to reach its mileage limitations at the end of 2008. The city has received enough federal grant money to purchase six new buses, but it does not have funding in place to purchase the remaining six.

City commissioners, however, have been skeptical of the consultant's findings. Several commissioners have said they find it counterintuitive that a merged system wouldn't result in savings.

Kaiser said commissioners need to be careful in discounting the consultant's findings. Kaiser said the consultant recognized some increases in service may be necessary to make a merged system work. Those service increases would cost more money.

"We hired the consultants for a reason," Kaiser said. "I have a hard time saying they're wrong. You know, transit is not inexpensive."

Decline a surprise

Putting more money into the system won't be easy for city commissioners, though. Chestnut said it is particularly difficult given the unexpected decline in ridership. Chestnut said he's reviewed the current numbers and has concluded that the T is providing service to a relatively small group of people on a day-in, day-out basis.

"This is a very expensive program for what we're talking about 600 to 700 people who really ride it on a very consistent basis," Chestnut said.

Galante said he has few explanations for the decline in ridership. The department recently increased fares from 50 cents to 75 cents, but these ridership numbers are for a period preceding the fare increase. Galante said it is likely ridership numbers will sink a little further.

Galante said one explanation could be that after years of posting strong ridership growth - ridership increased 138 percent from the end of 2001 to 2006 - that the T has attracted all the riders it can without improving services, such as longer hours or shorter wait times on routes.

Mill increase expected

Faced with a tight budget, that may not be the direction the City Commission goes. Chestnut said he would be willing to cut the service hours for the T from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. in an effort to better manage costs while a merger deal is negotiated with KU. Even with the service reduction, it would require a 0.4 mill increase in the 2008 city budget. That's because the city previously was spending fund balance money - the equivalent of a savings account - on the transit service, but that account has now been depleted.

All five city commissioners have expressed strong interest in pursuing a merger with KU. The commissioners, however, have not reached consensus on whether service hours should be cut in the meantime.

"If we're going to change the mindset in the community that the transit system serves more than the transit-dependent, this is the wrong time to cut hours," Mayor Sue Hack said.

KU and The T

Kansas University students who want to ride the T on a regular basis will not receive as steep of a discount as they have in the past.

Cliff Galante, the city's public transit administrator, said a tight budget has caused his department to re-evaluate the KU student discount program.

In the past, KU students who purchased a KU on Wheels Bus Pass for $140 could pay an extra $25 to buy unlimited ridership on the city's T buses. Now the cost of buying unlimited ridership will increase to $50 per semester, or $20 for the summer session.

But Galante said a new discount program will be in place for KU students who don't want to buy the pass, but want to ride a T bus more infrequently. KU students with a valid ID will be allowed to ride the bus for 35 cents.

Whether the changes will have much effect on KU ridership on the T is uncertain. Galante said the discount program had never been as popular with students as expected. He said about 300 KU students per year bought a $25 pass.


cowboy 10 years, 9 months ago

Time to PUNT boys

Why would KU students get to ride the money drain for less than half of what the normal folks pay ? Why would you offer free rides on sidewalk sale day ? " I don't know why they are down , but they will probably go down more "

T average daily revenue $500 Average daily operating cost $7500

lawrencian 10 years, 9 months ago

I think that the city commissioners are too optimistic about a merger with KU being the "solution" to their problems with the T. Since the majority of the funding for KU on Wheels comes from students, it is the students who would need to see a benefit... And as a former student, I don't see any benefit to a merger! I know some people will make comments about KU being a drain on city money, but it would really be more like the T being a drain on KU on Wheels, and that would not be advantageous to students.

It is also disappointing to see that commissioners are discounting the results of the study they had done last year regarding a merger -- if you're going to pay someone hundreds of thousands of dollars (isn't that how much it usually costs to pay a consultant?), you should take the results seriously. Otherwise, what would be the point of the study in the first place???

cowboy 10 years, 9 months ago

New city program announced , free shovels will be issued this saturday at city hall so all T proponents can dig a larger hole in the sand to place their heads in .

Being a non-profit entity does not mean losing your ass. Scrap this program and start over with a sensible plan that matches services with revenue

KS 10 years, 9 months ago

Oh, just throw some more moeny at it. Just like the public school system, that ought to fix it! I'm curious as to how many miles are on the existing busses that requires them to be replaced? I see money, I see money! I see a whole lota money!

Richard Heckler 10 years, 9 months ago

No matter there is a certain segment of the community that needs a ride to work,get to school and make medical service appointments which is about 72% of ridership. You don't improve service by cutting service. It is quite likely had the city had not cut the mill levy by 1.5 points in 2005 people would not have lost jobs, city employee pay increases would not be in jeopardy,pool admission increases to $4.00 might not be on the table and commissioners would not be thinking in terms of a decline in bus service. Mayor Hack and Comm. Highberger both expressed much concern over the 1.5 mil reduction. Mayor Hack said then the city might be looking at a sales tax increase in the very near future....looks as though she was on target.

A smart answer might be restoration of the mill levy to the 2005 level. A merger would be good so long as service all the way around would improve. All college cities and cities in general subsidize bus service...this is not a new concept. All forms of commercial travel are subsidized...air,train and bus.

Personal transportation is not subsidized which may ne a good reason to park our cars more frequently and make use of our tax dollars aka as public transporation and cut the wear and tear on our personal vehicles.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 years, 9 months ago

Down from what?????? For years now we have been flummoxed by the MT bus company and their glowing reports of "increasing ridership" when any fool could see they were lying. The city has tried to create a service that is needed by flinging untold amounts of taxpayer money at this collosal flop now well-known as the "Empty Bus Company" (MT). The whole system is a huge mistake and should be junked and a workable system to provide transportation to those who truly need it implemented and let the healthy and able-bodied people get a job, buy a car or bicycle and get this black hole of tax money off the city payroll.

bluerose 10 years, 9 months ago

an addendum to Merrill's comment (with which i agree completely): "No matter there is a certain segment of the community that needs a ride to work,get to school and make medical service appointments which is about 72% of ridership. You don't improve service by cutting service."

You don't improve service by cutting service then increasing fees for diminished service.

our car is near death and it is going to probably take all of saturday to get to the Farmer's Market and the Merc...oh yipes. will the T run on saturday????

atavism 10 years, 9 months ago

You hapless nimrods; why can't you see that public transport--a symbol for right to universal mobility-- is just another service that modern societies ought to provide to its members; services cost money--it's part of the welfare/social justice ethos that democratic republics purport to advance. The type of opposition, signaled by an unwillingness to pay for a service that an individual may not use signifies the typical rural attitudes that make Kansans great: an unwillingness to think outside the individual long enough to see that helping to pay for the collective project of 'governance' is beneficial to a collective society. Or, to put it much simpler terms: if you want the benefits of what a city can provide--paved streets and parks and rec softball, for instance-- then you have to be willing to pay for the things you don't use as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

There is absolutely no mystery as to why ridership has apparently levelled off. The service as currently designed is extremely inconvenient. For those who have cars, and can afford to drive them, doing so saves easily a half an hour, and often more, over a one way trip on the bus. And if you want to go somewhere that would require a return after 8 pm, or on Sunday, it just can't be done.

A merger of the two systems could address these problems, which would again lead to increasing ridership, even by those who who own and can afford to drive cars. But I expect that the antisocial whiners on this forum will never want to sit within a few feet of someone they fear might have cooties, or something.

grimpeur 10 years, 9 months ago

Thanks, atavism. A cigar for you. The black hole is the cost of supporting our current lazy, habitual, unnecessary driving, and that black hole is costing us all a lot more than the T costs. KU should take more responsibility for the traffic it is generating, and the T should be expanded and optimized to attract more ridership to continue its (by any measure) resounding success of its first four years. Meanwhile, KU should provide a portion of its parking permit revenues to the city to maintain the streets (which are being ground to dust by KU students and employees driving less than a mile each way each day), and moratorium imposed on new parking on KU's campus. To encourage more people to drive alone into the center of the city is irresponsible. To reduce the level of service of the T would be even more so.

imastinker 10 years, 9 months ago

As far as I'm concerned, Bozo is the only one that's right. The bus system is prohibitive to get anywhere. The hours are also poor.

A merger with the KU bus system may not save the city money, but at least we'd have a bus system that people could use. That's still a step forward. Further, KU could benefit from park and ride lots located on the edge of twon instead of the middle of town, like at the east end of K10 and tanger for example. This would have a marked decrease in traffic through town.

News_to_me 10 years, 9 months ago

Use of the T is down? How can you tell? Still look Em T to me most of the day.

Smaller buses using alternative fuel, especially if the cap on price of fuel is gone after next year, might be the answer. And Mayor Hack, if you want to change the mindset of the community, get on the bus, Gus! Make a new plan, Stan!

And why in the hell would the KU bus service want to be saddled with such an inefficient system?

Get on the bike, Mike! It's cheaper.

average 10 years, 9 months ago

Nod to Bozo. I've said it before... we got stuck with a system designed to fail.

The hours suck, but till 8 (kinda) is, very sadly, better than many towns.

The "staggered pulse", meaning waiting 20 minutes between buses downtown for many routes... that was designed to fail.

Running busses only every hour-and-twenty on the most ridden route, #8 across campus, where parking is a pain and many car-less people live... that was designed to fail.

Scheduling transfers by parking the bus in traffic on 23rd street for five minutes, planned failure.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

So, now we can call it the MTr. Where is it written that people are entitled tolow cost or free transportation? How did they get around prior to the T? According to merrill, ridership has increased. Was he lying or just ill-informed and trying to cram the erroneous info down our throats to make us feel good about the phenomenal tax drain? Maybe merrill and boozo can do something on their own to solve their perceived problem, like provide private transportation at convenient times for those who need it. Just because it is their cause, or the cause of the defunct CC, does not mean everyone else should rally behind it.

"That's because the city previously was spending fund balance money - the equivalent of a savings account - on the transit service, but that account has now been depleted."

I have been asking for many months how much money is left in the "rainy day fund". Maybe the question has been answered prior to this, but I was not aware. So, in actuality, our emergency fund is depleted?? And, a big cause is due to the drain of the T? How much more will be needed when the fuel costs double?

Sigmund 10 years, 9 months ago

Ridership is NOT a proper way to measure success or failure. Maximizing ridership is easy, just give it away for free or even pay people to ride. Maximizing utility and usefulness to the citizens is not so easy, but doable. Design the system to maximize revenues and minimize loss. When revenues increase the ridership tells the City that they value the service more than the price of the fare. Losses indicate that the ridership does not value the current service and that resources are being wasted. Ideally a profitable system assures the Citizens that the MV Transportation has designed and is managing a system that is appropriately using its resources.

Can this happen overnight? No, but the City should DEMAND that MV Transportation reduce their losses, not merely that ridership increased. Systematically reducing the subsidy to MV Transportation would assure the City that the routes and schedules are valued and that taxpayer resources are being appropriately managed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 9 months ago

The routes and coverage need to be completely redesigned, most likely around a merger with the KU system. After a merger, rather than having all the routes converge downtown, have them converge somewhere on the KU campus. Increase the coverage on the most heavily traveled routes, and decrease coverage on the least traveled routes.

tir 10 years, 9 months ago

This spring J.C. Penney forced the T to give up its bus stop over by their store, making it significantly less convenient for shoppers going to stores on that side of Iowa (including Penney's) and people going to the nearby movie theaters. I pretty much stopped using the no. 7 and no. 8 buses because of that, and I sure haven't gone back to Penneys. I wonder if other people did the same. That might have affected the number of people riding the T.

I still don't understand why Penneys was adamant about having the bus stop removed. I would suspect it resulted in fewer customers coming into their store.

Bubbles 10 years, 9 months ago

Bozo and average would bitch if they were hung with a silk rope.

gccs14r 10 years, 9 months ago

Maybe folks are finding alternatives, since we've been hearing for a few months now that the Commission wants to cut service. That would explain the decrease in ridership. It's called FUD--Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt--something that Microsoft practiced to great effect, and something the Commission should be ashamed to use in its attempts to kill the bus service.

kshiker 10 years, 9 months ago

Why should the 85,000-plus citizens of Lawrence pay increased taxes for a service that only 600 to 700 residents utilize on a daily basis? I'm sorry, but I purchase my own vehicle, pay for auto insurance, pay $3.10 a gallon for gas and have to pay for all the associated maintenance costs as well. I don't have the money for a property tax increase (on top of the increase in the mill levy for schools) along with the other 85,000 citizens of Lawrence just to pay for 600 to 700 people to have transportation.

Raise the fares to a level that will cover the costs of the system and pursue any possible efficiencies that may exist due to a merger with KU on Wheels. Everyone else who has to purchase a vehicle to drive to work finds a way to make it work; if you are one of the 600 people who use the T on a daily basis, you should be paying the full costs of that service.

loloen 10 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, whoever said that it would take all day to get to Target isn't joking. I live in N. Lawrence, and unfortunately, right now we are down to one family car. I stay at home all day with my daughter while my husband takes the car to work most days of the week. With the staggered "layover" at the downtown hub, It's not just a 20 min wait. It's more like 30. It literally takes 2 hours to get to and from Target and back, and that does not even include shopping time. In the summer heat, it's pretty unbearable waiting for the bus to come with a pre-schooler. My kid likes riding the bus, so that's a bonus, but even toward the end of the trip, she's ready for it to be over.

The bus drivers are super friendly, never had a problem with any of them and they will go out of their way to help you and explain routes. The T has some great employees. The really big downside to riding the bus (especially in N. Lawrence) is sharing the shelter with crackheads. It seems to me that the T doesn't enforce it's own policy of non-riders using their shelters for sleeping. If the crackheads DO decide to ride the bus (which happens occasionally) the entire ride is spent asking other passangers for money or just generally being out of their head. It's like, listen bozo, if I had money to give you for your fix, I wouldn't be riding the bus. I'd be driving instead.

I would like to see them have faster service, no 20-30 min waits for transfers, but I realize, faster service means more buses in operation and thus more money. It's wishful thinking I know. I for one would ride the bus a lot more often if I knew I didn't have to plan my day around one round trip.

Bubbles 10 years, 9 months ago

Yes Ioloen, the wheels of socialism turn very very slowly.

niaby 10 years, 9 months ago

KU on Wheels is not just signing up to associate with the empTy. Why would they? Not only are they purchasing their own fleet, they are also adding service as of this fall. The lack of benefit that the T would provide is reason enough not to merge. I appreciate that Mr. Galante is talking about merging only NOW when the system he came to grow ridership for is NOT growing.

imastinker 10 years, 9 months ago

1.4 million budget, 207000 rides last year. That comes to over $7 per ride, assuming all riders payed .50 to ride. I can drive my car cheaper.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm amazed that they bought buses with only a 350,000 mile life expectancy. The old General Motors Coach buses (I'm thinking of the old beige buses) the Lawrence Bus Company owned went for MILLIONS of miles. Of course they had to be rebuilt a few times along the way, but. . . Maybe they should be looking into hiring some diesel mechanics instead of buying new buses.

As I understand it, Caterpillar makes engines appropriate for these buses which they GUARANTEE for a MILLION miles provided their maintenance schedule is followed and documented.

Bud Stagg 10 years, 9 months ago

Where is my money from the city to subsidize my getting to work? My SUV carries more people to work every day than the T bus we pass. Some Bus company salesman, excuse me, consultant sold this city a bunch of goods. 1.4 million would fix a lot of potholes and sidewalks each year. $7 per ride? You could take a taxi.

With the exception of disabled people who may need rides, giving people a cheap ride is just taking money out of my pocket and putting it in theirs. It also keeps them from getting off their lazy asses and earning a living like the rest of have to do. We work so we can afford a car and get our butts to work. If you don't earn enough to afford a car, get another job, improve yourself and get a higher paying job, but work at it.

It's America people not Russia. You have to work at it.

x96merrill3 10 years, 9 months ago

bluerose wrote: "our car is near death and it is going to probably take all of saturday to get to the Farmer's Market and the Merc:oh yipes. will the T run on saturday????"

Um.....Bluerose, Merrill and all you other pro-bussers...why should 99.2% of the population that DOESN'T use the T on a regular basis (Regular riders/Population) worry about paying for YOU to get to the Farmer's market (now up to 4 days a week) or the Merc (open 7 days a week) on Saturday?
I can't believe how self-centered you uber liberal, social welfare, tax, tax, tax, and build a wall communists are. Astonishing. I guess perspective is everything. I'm all for taking care of myself and you are all for others taking care of you.

x96merrill3 10 years, 9 months ago

imastinker (Anonymous) says:

1.4 million budget, 207000 rides last year. That comes to over $7 per ride, assuming all riders payed .50 to ride. I can drive my car cheaper.

Stinker---while I agree with you sentiment, we have to make sure we use the right numbers or Merrill will jump all over you, call you a liar, and interject his own fictional numbers.

207,003 is representative of the rides through June of this year. The budget is actually 1.7 million for the year. Rides still cost more than $4 per. Less the cost of the ridership ($.75 and later $1) and the cost is STILL more than $3 PER RIDER TO THE TAXPAYERS. Keep in mind, this is while we are still only paying $1.60 for gas. What happens when that jumps up to a more reasonable $3+ per gallon?

1.28% of the city budget (our tax dollars) is being used to appease .8% of the community who can't get a ride.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

How is it that KU buys used busses built in 1992, while the EmpT is going to scrap its busses after less than 10 years?????

I can't believe I am going to write this, but, the city needs to hire a consultant to design a public transit system that actually fits the needs of the community.

My suggestion is to create an "on demand" system for people who qualify based on need, using much smaller vehicles. Quit paying for those big buses to drive around and around and around with no passengers.

imastinker 10 years, 9 months ago

x96merrill3 -

thanks for the correction. $4 per ride is much better, but it should be much lower still. The answer would be to make a bus system that could be used by taxpayers, not just very poor people. Most poor people I know have no problem affording a car. Cars are really very cheap.

However, there are many benefits to riding places. You don't have to mess with parking. There is less wear and tear on the roads. A little walking is healthy. There's less emissions and dependence on foriegn oil this way. I can really see how the bus system could benefit lawrence, and not just the very poor. But, we need to make it useable. If I need to go to wal mart from North Lawrence, and I can hop in the car and be ther in 15 minutes but the bus will take 45, it's not going to happen. If I live at harvard and wakarusa and want to go downtown, It's usually faster to mess with parking than to take the bus.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

The reason the EmpT is such a monumental failure is that it was implemented with the intent of changing people's habits rather than with the purpose of filling a demonstrated need. The "build it and they will come" theory failed here. The only way to make the T succeed would be to ban cars in the city limits.

SloMo 10 years, 9 months ago

I don't know why they don't just run the buses up and down the main thoroughfares like they do in reasonable cities (e.g., Barcelona, Paris, London, places where they figured out mass transit long ago). Is there any place in town that is more than two or three blocks away from a thoroughfare? This hub system is the worst possible, and no service in the early morning, late evening, holidays or weekends is ridiculous. I think it was designed to fail.

vinividivici 10 years, 9 months ago

The T needs much improvement, but getting rid of it would be a crime. There are people that need and use the T who aren't lazy and do work hard and would be hardpressed if the T was eliminated. Why is it that so many people on this forum get made at bicyclers and people who ride the T? We're not contributing to the traffic congenstion, we're either reducing/eliminating pollutants in our environment, and we're saving a ton of money. Why don't you jump on the band wagon and take the T next time you go downtown and spend the $40 in gas it takes to fill your tank on a new pair of shoes instead? Then you could take advantage of a PUBLIC SERVICE that we are all paying for.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 9 months ago

atavism wrote: "You hapless nimrods...."

Yeah, that shows thoughtful intelligence and supports the point. To paraphrase the old cliche about honey and vinegar, when one makes the message distasteful, the people one is trying to convince will disregard even the most rational, intelligent message.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

"The T needs much improvement, but getting rid of it would be a crime."

Keeping it running is a crime called armed robbery.

lawrencian 10 years, 9 months ago

KU can buy used buses because it is not a "public" system. And yes, with 1/3 of the student body riding the bus, we need those newer, larger, blue buses. I like the idea of the city changing its' routes to be more efficient. Certainly, if I could get to work on time, instead of an hour early or 15 minutes late, I'd use the bus and save myself the gas money I waste in my car.

MyName 10 years, 9 months ago

Um:..Bluerose, Merrill and all you other pro-bussers:why should 99.2% of the population that DOESN'T use the T on a regular basis (Regular riders/Population) worry about paying for YOU to get to the Farmer's market (now up to 4 days a week) or the Merc (open 7 days a week) on Saturday? I can't believe how self-centered you uber liberal, social welfare, tax, tax, tax, and build a wall communists are.

Dang! You can't even string two sentences together without pulling out a contradiction! On the one hand, you ask why non-riders should care about the bus system (maybe because non-riders actually care about old people and poor people and want them to be able to get around town), then on the other hand you accuse people who care about those that use the bus system of being "self-centered", when your (even more self centered) attitude is "forget those people, they can just walk". Brilliant!

The bus system is not this big drain on our taxes. It makes up less than 2% of the budget. If you took all of the money that is spent on public transportation and put it into streets, or the water system, or what have you, you'd get no bus system, and no noticable improvement in any of the other services. I agree that the system needs to be reworked, but the best way to handle this is to make a service that people actually want to use so the ridership will go up. The biggest reason why people don't use this system is because it is set up so that it takes hours to get from one part of town to the other, because, unless your starting and ending points are on the same route, you have to wait a half an hour downtown doing nothing.

Not only that, but Public Transportation is the future in this country. Period. There is no way that the high percentage of people that drive today will be able to do so with the cost of gas rising the way it is. Do you think we'll even see $2 a gallon again, let alone $1 a gallon? I sure don't. So why not get this bus system figured out now so that we have something that works when larger numbers of people need it?

vinividivici 10 years, 9 months ago

My tax dollars pay for your kids' and grandkids' athletic fields and park playgrounds. Seeing as I don't have any kids, you can help pay for my transportation.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

myname wrote: " Public Transportation is the future in this country. "

Right. The FUTURE! For Big Cities! Not for small town Lawrence, not now.

penguin 10 years, 9 months ago

ya merger...if I had a system with falling numbers, massive inefficiencies, and the potential for catastrophic gasoline increase with a new contract in the future, I am sure I would want to merge too. The city had their chance years ago to make merger a reality, but now it is merely an attempt to force KU students to pay for Lawrence's boondoggle on wheels.

The only real benefit the city ever had was nicer buses that were ADA compliant....and now that is gone with the arrival of the new buses.

There is no way students should ever support merger. The T increased rates on the T sticker, city routes in no way work around the same student-focused schedule that KU on Wheels operates under, and they converge downtown (KU on Wheels does so at the Kansas Union).

These are just a few of the reason, but most of all is that students would get a raw deal. Each semester students pay $36 per semester ($10 per semester for Saferide) in Transportation fees. This fee is regardless of whether students purchase a bus pass. However, if they purchase a bus pass it is another $140 fee per year. On top of that students purchase numerous items in this town and contribute money to the city through sales tax revenue. All said...students would be out of their mind to support this effort.

Also for everyone who wants students to pay for roads or the university to pay for them...see the sales tax revenue argument. I can guarantee you if the 26,000 students were suddenly removed the city would feel the hurt in sales tax collection rates. So just like other residents of Lawrence...they deserve to not be gouged in order to pay for City Hall's mistakes.

Dan Alexander 10 years, 9 months ago

I just started using the T, I ride a bicycle usually but my new job is pretty far away, so I commute using a combination of riding my bicycle, and the number 6 bus. I also use the K10 connector bus to get to OP. I went to school in Chicago and used the subway/ bus system everyday, there it is a no brainer, no one seemed to own a car. I have never owned a car, and right now have no plan to do so. Our country is in a crisis from staying the course. I'm trying to do my part by tipping the scales. So some of you don't want to have to subsidize a service you don't use. How about you predictable, ultra conservative, narrow minded citizens just think of the money you spend as your pentence. Thats the money you spend to cut down on air pollution and traffic congestion. Think of it this way the more of us lefty loonies that are on bikes and in the busses is just more lanes of pavement you can control all to yourself. You can even emit more CO2 cause we are producing less, now your greedy lil minds outa be able justify the small amount of tax money you spend on public transportation.

KsTwister 10 years, 9 months ago

"That's because the city previously was spending fund balance money - the equivalent of a savings account - on the transit service, but that account has now been depleted."-Chestnut

Would like to know what the fund balance money was to be used for prior to the "T" ! Keep looking Rob there is more. Lawrence is no more ready for a public funded bus system then the smaller cities around here. Time to eliminate the T now before the cost to ride goes up to $3 with no riders.

imastinker 10 years, 9 months ago

Dan -

that's real mature. Find me a bus system that reliably works with my schedule and I'll use it. I do when I travel to places like Chicago or San Francisco, but this area is too spread out. I bet 90% of the people in and around Lawrence can't use the system because of one reason or another.

I do think that if the bus system is mergered, KU on wheels ought to manage it, not the city.

loloen 10 years, 9 months ago

offtotheright: I wasn't asking you to subsidize my transportation. Nowhere in my post did I say people needed to pay for the T so I can ride. For your information, I DO use the car when my husband doesn't have it to do my grocery shopping, most of my doctor's visits etc. But there are times when he has to have the car for work and I have to get to the doctor for another appointment (6 months pregnant-that's another issue with the heat all together) and the bus is the only option.

Glad you are rich and can afford a car. I work hard, the T is there, I ride it. My argument was with the T not being friendly enough to attract new riders, ie the layovers, and crazies that inhabit the bus shelters.

I DID walk everywhere when I lived off of N. Michigan. Even in the dead of summer, I would push my daughter in a stroller for about a 2 miles walk downtown and then walk 2 miles back. I LOVE being self-sufficient, it's just not a reality now that I'm waddling.

Anyway, as I said earlier, I don't expect people to support paying for the T if they don't use it. But I pay a lot of taxes for services I or my family will never use either, but you probably do. That's part of community living. If you don't like it, move out to the country where all you have to worry about is the county. Because my husband and I choose not to buy a new car right now, that's one less car on the road to get in your way and foul up YOUR air.

Tim vonHolten 10 years, 9 months ago

The T, compared to any other city I've been to or lived in, is the most reliable I've ever seen. In cities like Chicago, a "schedule" is printed as a formality only. The T always runs on time, and runs every half hour, which is a pretty easy schedule to fit into your lifestyle. The problem with the T is a vicious circle created by people who are blind to the public benefit of anything but enormous, unnecessary personal space afforded them by a vehicle that they can wield like a shield, combined with an imaginary urgency in their schedule and some twisted, bloated sense of personal freedom that they feel is being infringed upon by the funding of anything they're not smart enough to use. The T is a good thing. It just is. Think about it (start by thinking) and you'll recognize that. "All day to get to Target" on the T? Try forty minutes-maybe. It was pretty clear in the recent Lawrence Sustainability Symposium that the most vocalized complaints against the T are unfounded, unresearched, and ignorant. I recall at least two people complaining of a lack of access to places that are on AT LEAST one T route, which was (too) politely pointed out by Mr. Galante. Try leaving your tiny shell in your tiny plane of existence long enough to see what's happening around you and you may notice that certain things are not only not worth complaining about, but may even be beneficial to the community you want so desperately to protect from public programs. If you're so terribly afraid to ride the T (let's just admit it), move to Overland Park, where everyone is nice because you never have to see them outside of their Escalades. How much money are you willing to "throw at" the completely pointless SLT, just to cut a few minutes off your commute in or out of a town you clearly don't enjoy? Personally, I'd rather live in a progressive, vibrant city with character (and a responsible way to see it) than a bedroom community with all the charm of the new Eudora suburbs. If you're worried that the T isn't making enough money to support itself, ride it. Or just keep complaining about the problem you're creating-silently, please.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 9 months ago

Criteria for "top" college towns can be be found here:

Good urban design is one criteria that weighed heavily--

parks and green spaces, bikeways, (((solid public transportation))), architectural integrity, strong downtowns, and, particularly, pedestrian amenities. The chance to walk around town, rather than being forced into your car by thoughtless urban planning, is one of the most basic measures of a community's enlightenment. This is not only because walking is one of life's most underrated pleasures, but because having large numbers of pedestrians fosters other benefits such as cleaner air, more human-scale architecture, low crime, and increased neighborliness. Architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, two of the most influential urban planners in America today, argue that a great city is merely a confederation of great neighborhoods. And they point out that great neighborhoods are easily identifiable by the presence of a lively business district within easy walking distance of everyone who lives there. Also known as urban villages, these neighborhood centers include public spaces like coffeeshops and parks where people can meet one another and talk over what's happening around town. And that's the kind of community engagement and connectedness that distinguish the following towns as good places to live--and great places to learn from.

fletch 10 years, 9 months ago

"KU should provide a portion of its parking permit revenues to the city to maintain the streets"

Hahahaha, wow. You mean like the sales taxes generated by having 25000+ students in town? You mean like the taxes on rental units lived in by students? You mean like the gas tax paid for by students when they buy gas in Lawrence? Oh wait, turns out all those things go into the city, county, and state coffers to pay for road construction anyway. I always laugh at the "KU needs to pay more to the community" arguement. Without KU, Lawrence ends up size of Baldwin City because it wouldn't have had the economic growth spurred by the University for 100+ years. Lawrence and KU don't exist in a vacuum. It's a symbiotic relationship both benefit from.

Moving on, I once again want to reiterate how dumb it would be for KU on Wheels to merge with the T. The study that was done even shows that it probably won't end up saving any money. Students have 100% operational control over their bus system (only student run bus system left in the nation, btw). They decide the fees, routes, contracts, etc. Why would they give that up? The proposed system leaves student representatives with far less than 50% control (KU admin will end up with more control). The T is a poorly planned system that is continually hemorrhaging money. KU on Wheels, on the other hand, has a surplus in the bank. KU students shouldn't agree to pay for the city's poor planning. If the T dies, I can guarantee you that KU on Wheels will be more than happy to re-expand some of the routes it has cut to prevent T overlap.

MrMister 10 years, 9 months ago

The best way to make the system make money is to cut routes during the day (very few people will ride the bus while they are at work) and increase the routes for peak travel times. That means that the major routes would have extra buses to run earlier in the morning to get people to work. East-to-west and north-to-south express runs could be added at park and ride lots to get folks to a central connection with less than a five minute wait for the connection. that you would pick up say at the Lied Center (mostly unused) parking lot. The busases would have to start earlier ( I have to ride my Bike about 1 mile to the only stop that operates early enough for me to get to work on time). What would really be a bennefit to the city? How about we keep the busses running until 3:00 AM so that drunk students don't have to drive home. With the current system, I can get to work in about 40 minutes, but the trip home takes over an hour. and if the first bus in the morning breaks down I am late for work. There have been times that I had to ride my bike back home because the started the route with the small bus that has no rack. That is why I haven't ridden this year. I did enjoy the ride though. As stated before the drivers are a great bunch of folks, but the system sucks.

average 10 years, 9 months ago

I'll agree that taking the bus from GSP/Corbin is ridiculous. Daisy Hill, too.

But, that's not the majority of the KU on Wheels riders. Forty years ago, KU was half the size it is now and had many, many more dorm rooms (JRP for starters, and Daisy Hill rooms weren't yet suites).

Since KU really doesn't want to be in the dorm business (and it shows), those new students are now in the apartments on 6th (Highpointe to Kasold), 15th, Colony Woods, Jeff Commons, etc, etc. Those routes are the majority of KU on Wheels riders, and if you drive in Lawrence, thank the gods that those thousands of students aren't coming to campus every day in private automobiles.

Oh, and dozens of classes are offered on West Campus nowadays, and thousands of students work over there. It ain't a cornfield any more.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 9 months ago

In addition to the cogent observations average makes, we have different expectations and sensibilities than we had in 1967. Those expectations aren't any better or worse--just different. And they aren't limited to the students at KU or any other university. It is society's expectations that have changed. The change in the students simply reflect that.

coneflower 10 years, 9 months ago

Sadly, what the city will do is exactly the opposite of what is needed in order to increase ridership. The bus needs to run longer, and run more routes, to be a truly usable service.

I can't tell you how many times someone in my family did NOT take the bus because the last bus leaves downtown at 7:23 p.m. and that was too early.

Run them until 9:20 p.m. and expand the routes so there's always a bus within a ten-minute walk. That's what it would take to make a bus system people would use.

It's a much bigger city, but Chicago is a model of how public transportation can save a city. Paris is installing borrow-or-rent-a-bicycle stations every 900 feet throughout the city. These things can work. They require a public will and a vision that, judging from these forums, Lawrence does not have. The attitude on here is, if I don't use the bus, it should not exist. Nothing great was ever built from such attitudes.

toefungus 10 years, 9 months ago

I would ride the bus if I had a rack for my grocery cart.

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

The system, though helpful and necessary, is still extremely inefficient. There are routes that could be reduced or dropped, or incorporated together to allow for greater per route ridership. Some of them see so little traffic as to be essentially for 10 different people a day, and most of that number ride in one shift, to get to work, usually out at the East Hills Business Park. The schedule as it was drawn out upon initiation was good to start and familiarize the people with the system, but it needs to be re-done if they hope to cut into their costs. Of course, when the shrieking choruses are pretty much stuck on "Keep the T!" and "Drop the T!" with little thought or variation, such actual change is probably not very likely to come about.

I haven't read the commentary, so I apologize if there was, at some point, any form of new and meaningful discussion. I can't say that I really think it to be likely.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 9 months ago

Bowhunter99 wrote " I don't think I've ever seen a...T bus with more than 6 people on it:".

I, on the other hand, have often seen more than a dozen people on the T. One simply has to be paying attention, and look at times other than, say the last run of the night or at the far reaches of its circuits.

Mike_DuPree 10 years, 8 months ago

I'd like to direct the Commission's attention, and especially the Public's attention to whom the Commission is responsible, to the following article titled "Fare-Free Public Transit Could Be Headed to a City Near You." This just showed up in my email or I would have posted sooner in the debate about the T. If ANY city in the world can make this work, as many are already doing, then Lawrence can too.

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