To the editor:
Since 2001, the T has increased ridership every year but 2007 (when fares were raised twice). Last year, the T provided 232,000 more trips on its fixed routes than it did in 2001.
A good public transit system has been shown to be an important element in business attraction. Other communities regard their transportation systems as a tool for economic development. Public transit is good for employers, providing a reliable way to get to work across town. It helps reduce traffic congestion and the need to repair and expand the roads. It saves energy and reduces auto emissions. It's significantly safer than travel in single-passenger vehicles.
The T is an essential public service that a growing city like Lawrence cannot do without, and it should not be viewed as some frill whose existence can be questioned or put to special vote every time there's a budget shortfall. The T is as important as many items in the city budget that are not funded by special sales tax.
The City Commission is charged with making tough decisions that will benefit Lawrence now and in the future. Instead of scrapping the T, cutting service or singling out this indispensable city service for a referendum, the commission should actually make the progressive choice to invest in the system. The right decision about our bus system will take courage and vision, but it is an obvious one: Save our bus system, fund it adequately now, and start planning to expand the service in the future.
president, for the League of Women Voters Lawrence-Douglas County