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Archive for Thursday, August 14, 2008

Public bus system a valuable service

August 14, 2008

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The only national grassroots membership organization to focus solely on issues unique to women as they age, OWL strives to improve the status and quality of life of midlife and older women.

Members of the Kaw Valley Older Women's League believe that a prime responsibility of government is to provide the infrastructure that supports growth and stability of the community. A future society based on independent or affordable mobility cannot be assumed. Rather, principles of universal design including equitable, flexible, simple and intuitive use can be applied to planning and assure that Lawrence remains a livable community for all ages.

The Lawrence Transit System is successful. It has grown 130 percent in 5 years. From January through July 2008, fare-box and pass sales have increased 54 percent over the same period last year. Compared with 201 other national systems, it is the third-fastest-growing new system and the fourth-fastest over all. In terms of public transportation supporting economic development in the community, the T is delivering a qualified work force to and from their jobs.

In traveling to and from educational facilities, Lawrence residents are learning a variety of job skills that will assist them in future employment. Traveling to retail and shopping establishments supports the local economy. Employees, shoppers and students are all assisted by the T in raising their standard of living which enables them to live productively and support the local tax base.

In light of our mission of advocating for midlife and older women, the Older Women's League notes that the T already has a higher-than-average ridership for medical needs. Few options are available for those who do not drive or are on a limited income. The T provides transportation for those who may not seek needed medical care due these concerns. This group will grow as our community continues to age and Lawrence continues to attract retirees.

As "baby boomers" grow older, a dramatic shift in the average age of people using public transit is likely. Larger numbers of passengers will be seeking viable options due to physical, as well as financial, changes. This group will bring particular needs which an aware community cannot ignore.

The primary reason indicated by current T passengers for using the system is convenience. The system ranked negatively in the scheduling of service hours and days, time waiting for next bus and the on-time reliability. These are concerns that can be corrected with experience, investment and growth.

Lawrence is currently positioned where the size of the community is manageable in setting a direction that invests in a successful future over short-term fiscal convenience. To continue funding at the current levels is functionally a reduction as the T is at a point where increased services are the logical business decision.

Working within an established system to adjust to current then future needs is more cost-effective than trying to re-establish a system at a later date when costs will have increased.

Public transportation is an important piece of the public infrastructure. The increase in gasoline prices has placed public transportation in a highly visible position today, but the community needs to consider it in the longterm. The T allows people to remain productive, independent and contributing to the Lawrence community. This is a decision to be made not for each individual's need but for the Lawrence community overall.

-Gayle Sigurdson is president of the Kaw Valley Older Women's League.

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 4 months ago

texburgh,Why do you want to raise taxes on 100% of us to fund a bankrupt transportation system that benefits only 3% of us? Because you're part of the 3% that gets something. Too bad for the other 97%, right?

kugrad 6 years, 4 months ago

Having a transit system benefits the community as a whole. It reduces pollution, it allows people to be productive who otherwise might lose their jobs, it is energy efficient, and it employs people. Many people depend on the T to get to work on time. The working poor are not the only riders of the T of course, but an important subset that we should support. There are many homeless children in Lawrence. Without the T, there are likely to be more. Think about being a single mom whose ability to support children, pay for housing etc. depends on getting to a job by riding the T. If you lose the transportation, you could quickly lose the job and end up on the street. The T has many benefits and should be supported.

texburgh 6 years, 4 months ago

Outstanding. Right on commentary. Thank you, Gayle, for hitting the nail on the head. This community needs mass transit for a variety of reasons. This is a good investment deserving of our support - if not for ourselves then for those who depend on it for work, medical help, and basic transportation.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 4 months ago

If no more than 3% of Lawrence residents ride the emp-T, how is it that there appears to be more than tacit support for it? Answer: The Progressive Lawrence/IMPAC crowd are trickling in letters one day at a time to the LJW to give the appearance of broad support for our city's wasteful, bankrupt public transportation debacle.

doc1 6 years, 4 months ago

It would be cheaper to give the few people who do ride the stupid thing money for a cab.

seriouscat 6 years, 4 months ago

You're wrong.It's because there's this thing called a learning curve, and this other thing called experience. Two things the "T" needs to work on. It does need to be fixed (and use ad revenue). But most people in Lawrence are able to see that just to nix it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

deskboy04 6 years, 4 months ago

I am not in favor of continuing the bus service.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Most of us do not use 99.7% of the streets in Lawrence,Kansas. In many more cases there are roads of which locations are unknown. I am sure most of us never visit new neighborhoods. We subsidize those projects and think nothing of it...never utter a word. Think how many ways these millions upon millions of tax dollars could be spent in more wisely? The T allows so many to be productive citizens whether it's contributing to the economy,becoming educated by KU, USD 497, getting to a job or allowing independence of senior citizens who can no longer drive. This tax dollar increase is productive use of tax dollars equal to that money spent on academics in USD 497. I say support this cause.The bus routes have been designed to cover all of the commercial and industrial zones in Lawrence,Kansas.When park n' ride is figured into the equation our local bus service provides over 700,000 rides annually. The city owns 5 of the park n'ride buses however this ridership is not reflected on the T site. The T is accomplishing excellent ridership service. Since 2001 our bus service has experienced 123% increase in ridership. Let's support this valuable service.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

OCTOBER 25, 2007Three-fourths of Americans believe that being smarter about development and improving public transportation are better long-term solutions for reducing traffic congestion than building new roads, according to a survey sponsored by the National Association of Realtors® and Smart Growth America. The 2007 Growth and Transportation Survey details what Americans think about how development affects their immediate community. Nearly three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the role growth anddevelopment play in climate change, as well as remaining concerned about traffic congestion. Half of those surveyed think improving public transit would be the best way to reduce congestion, and 26 percent believe developing communities that reduce the need to drive would be the better alternative. Only one in five said building new roads was the answer.Eight in 10 respondents prefer redeveloping older urban and suburban areas rather than build new housing and commercial development on the edge of existing suburbs. More than half of those surveyed believe that businesses and homes should be built closer together to shorten commutes, limit traffic congestion and allow residents to walk to stores and shops instead of using their cars. Six in 10 also agree that new-home construction should be limited in outlying areas and encouraged in inner urban areas to shorten commutes and prevent more traffic congestion.

Solutions101 6 years, 4 months ago

Sigurdson writes this article as if there is no other option to public transportation than the T. We can have public transportation WITHOUT a tax increase and without the T. The tax-payer's responsibility should have a limit to the public services provided. For example, providing free transportation to overweight "disabled" people to Pizza Hut's door while they enjoy luxuries (transportation and restaurants) on our tax dollars that we ourselves choose not to spend our money that foolishly because we work for it! As for medical trips and such, there are many taxi services that would better suit the needs to an elderly person due to health concerns (heat, cold, means of traveling/waiting at bus station).As with the T, it needs to go. It will eventually be shut down, and the tax will stay, as with all other taxes. For example, income tax began in 1861 during the Civil War to help fund the war. The war ended, but despite, the tax stayed and more followed. Personal income tax should definitely be viewed as the draft: Used only in an extreme time of need, i.e. World War III.With the T being shut down, the City of Lawrence can & will merge with KU on Wheels without an increase in tax. Come on, now they are proposing two different taxes because they realize the tax cannot support the T. They are not even rationalizing. Give me a break!Please Vote NO!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Public Transportation Reduces U.S. Foreign Oil Dependence Using conservative assumptions, the study found that current public transportation usage reduces U.S. gasoline consumption by 1.4 billion gallons each year. In concrete terms, that means: 108 million fewer cars filling up almost 300,000 every day. 34 fewer supertankers leaving the Middle East one every 11 days. Over 140,000 fewer tanker truck deliveries to service stations per year. A savings of 3.9 million gallons of gasoline per day. These savings result from the efficiency of carrying multiple passengers in each vehicle, the reduction in traffic congestion from fewer automobiles on the roads, and the varied sources of energy for public transportation. Public transportation also saves energy by enabling land use patterns that create shorter travel distances, both for transit riders and drivers. We hope to estimate these savings in future research, but were not able to include them in this report. Significant Household Savings Households who use public transportation save a significant amount of money. A two- adult "public transportation household" saves an average $6,251 every year, compared to an equivalent household with two cars and no access to public transportation service. We define "public transportation household" as a household located within 3â4 mile of public transportation, with two adults and one car. To put these household savings in perspective, we compared them to other household expenditures: ¢ The average U.S. household spent $5,781 on food in 2004. ¢ The average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage spent $6,848 on mortgage interest and fees in 2004, and paid off $3,925 in mortgage principal.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

I am not in disfavor of not discontinuing the bus service.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments. The community is way over extended in this regard. If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

"It actually IS cheaper to give people a gallon of gas than to provide them a one-way ride on the T."Except for those who do not want to drive or cannot drive for a host of reasons.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 4 months ago

"Public bus system a valuable service"Public bus riders, valuable fellow Lawrencians( ... unlike the Larryvillains, so outspoken in these forums )

Robertsdottir 6 years, 3 months ago

Hello from Norway! When I lived in Lawrence, I was grateful to have the T to take me to work, to get my groceries, to get to doctor's appointments, etc. It may come as a surprise to many people that there are a lot of us out there who are unable to drive. I urge the generous, progressive people of Lawrence to vote for the tax increase so that the disabled, the elderly, the infirm, the poor, and anyone else who is unable to drive or who has no car can get around town. Public transport is not a luxury; it is a necessity, and it would be an embarrassment for a city as relatively wealthy and progressive and environmentally aware as Lawrence not to offer its citizens a bus service.

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