Archive for Friday, July 18, 2008

Group to discuss ways to save bus system

With budget shortfalls and a possible sales tax vote in November, the future for the Lawrence Transit System still remains cloudy.

July 18, 2008

Advertisement

A citizens' group is forming in hopes of saving the city's public transit system, but that does not necessarily mean it'll be rallying support for a proposed public transportation sales tax.

"A sales tax is going to hit hardest the actual people who ride the T," said C.J. Brune, a neighborhood activist who is helping organize the citizens' group. "To pass a sales tax to just keep the T running is going to be a totally uphill battle, even for progressives."

Instead, Brune hopes that a Monday evening meeting will produce alternative ways to save the T, which is facing a $1 million budget shortfall in 2009.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

The other option that city commissioners have considered - but thus far rejected - is increasing the property tax mill levy to pay for the transit shortfall. It likely would take a 1.5 to 2.5 mill increase to cover the shortfall.

City Commissioner Boog Highberger said he will propose at Tuesday's City Commission meeting that the mill levy be increased enough for 2009 to keep the T operational, with the provision that the mill levy would be reduced in 2010 if voters approve the sales tax.

Highberger has proposed that plan before and failed to get the necessary two other commissioners to join him. Highberger said he'll vote against any city budget proposal that doesn't include guaranteed funding for the T.

"I can't support a budget that gambles the bus system on a sales tax vote," Highberger said.

Highberger also said he'll urge fellow commissioners to reconsider their plan to place two separate sales tax provisions on the November ballot. At present, commissioners have expressed support for placing a 0.2 percent sales tax for transit and a 0.3 percent sales tax for improved street maintenance, sidewalks and infrastructure.

Highberger believes the two sales tax initiatives should be combined to give the transit system the best chance of winning approval.

"By the city making it two separate questions on the ballot, they have doomed it in my opinion," Brune said. "You either are a bus driver, a bus rider or someone with an extreme social consciousness to vote for it."

But a majority of city commissioners have supported making the bus question a separate ballot issue so that voters have a clear forum for either expressing support or opposition to a city-run bus system.

Some commissioners also have expressed optimism that the transit sales tax will pass, given the rising price of gasoline and new efforts on the part of the city to combine its transit service with Kansas University's bus system.

City commissioners are expected to dive deeply into the subject at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. At that meeting, commissioners are expected to set the maximum mill levy for 2009, which is one of the last steps before giving final approval to the budget. Commissioners are expected to vote to officially place the two sales tax questions on the ballot at their Aug. 5 meeting.

Comments

monkeyhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Boog is right in his assertion that the only hope of passage is to combine the sales tax questions. How ludicrous is it that we have to increase sales tax to merely have decent streets, let alone fund the most miserable failure of monumental proportions? Yeah, right, we need nice, smooth roads for the filth spewing Lawrence Liberal Limo to tote all those invisible riders around.I, personally, cannot wait to cast my vote to make this most disgraceful waste of tax dollars disappear. This is a huge part of why the PLC has also disappeared, except for the remaining lame duck dinosaur. It must be very frustrating for him to see his Shangri-la dreams go down the drain.

igby 6 years, 9 months ago

Insure these T buses and hope they get stolen. Lol. What a relief. Why is the City paying this California company, "middlemen" to run a bus system that's failed. Then theres a local city appointed board of people that are un-qualified to run a garden hose over-seeing this Calico. It like and army hired to catch lighting bugs for sunshine. Lol.

Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

LogicMan (Anonymous) says:"The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. I hope some economically-minded thick-skinned people show up to help balance the discussion :"Great idea, I've always wanted to go into a room of rabid socialist and be called "a rich hate filled planet killing global warming denier." Just how open to rational discussion of economics, the ecological soundness of running huge buses with an average of 7 riders, or the population density needed for cost effective public transportation do you think these folks are likely to be? I get more than my minimum daily requirement of abuse posting anonymously.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"Why do people like myself have to take care of you T riders?"Because we all enjoy the benefits provided by low-wage workers."Why not ride a bike?"Kind of obvious, isn't it? Not everyone is capable of riding a bike, and for those that are, it's quite often not practical."Why not live closer to your job?"The likely reasons for this are too numerous (and obvious) to list. At least they live in the same town their job is in, unlike those who want way more public money spent on the SLT so they can drive to another town 5 minutes faster.

thebaker 6 years, 9 months ago

""I can't support a budget that gambles the bus system on a sales tax vote," Highberger said."In other words, I don't want to listen to the people of this town. Their wants and opinions do not matter to me.

average 6 years, 9 months ago

Seven years later, and we STILL can't get all the buses to meet at the same place at the same time. A "pulse", like pretty much every bus system of our size on the planet? We still have the "twenty minute loiter" each way. The T was designed to fail. If fixes are impossible, the fix is in.

sjschlag 6 years, 9 months ago

"Instead of leeching off of society, why don't the riders of the T pay their own way?"You can take the T too. It's not like you have to "qualify" to ride the bus. You choose to pay your own way, because you obviously prefer the operation of your own motor vehicle. Which is more than okay. However, with gas prices increasing wouldn't it be nice to have a choice? Wouldn't it be nice to have an alternative to driving? Let's fix the system. The T is something we can all use and benefit from, not a taxi service for lower income workers.

repaste 6 years, 9 months ago

Right Bozo, " the times they are a changing" it is force bigger than us. 440,000 rides times $8 = $3.5 mill? A little operational input from some "economic mind " might help. There isa time and a place to think with your money, just not everywhere. Conservative no tax policy sure seems to make my overall taxs soar. . . Sales tax is one of the most regressive taxes. How about that 9 cents we give to the credit card co's for every gall. of gas. Far right socialism?

LogicMan 6 years, 9 months ago

"The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt."I hope some economically-minded thick-skinned people show up to help balance the discussion ...

Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

Currently it costs Lawrence taxpayers approximately $8.00 to provide a single ride on the empTy. For that same amount of money most people can buy two gallons of gas which will take them and a passenger 40 miles when and where they want. Before anyone should even consider increasing taxes and "saving the empTy" for those "standing room only" riders the fares should be increased to cover half the cost of the service, $4.00. Running empTy buses all over Lawrence does not make either ecological "scents" nor economic "cent$"

Bruce Bertsch 6 years, 9 months ago

Why is the T a failed system? Is it merely because it runs a deficit? Name one US mass transit system that doesn't require subsidy. I'll give you a hint, there are none. The T provides a valuable service to the community. To discontinue a bus service in the midst of $4 gas would be folly indeed. There are those who call the system the emT. Those who apparently have never used it. I do, and I have yet to be alone on a bus either coming or going. Often, it is standing room only for part of the ride. The T is something worth saving.

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years, 9 months ago

"A sales tax is going to hit hardest the actual people who ride the T,"Ummm...so? Since they use it the most, it only makes sense that they help support it. Why on earth would non-T riders be expected to foot the bill?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Public transportation take cars off the road thus improving traffic congestion and air pollution. Then there are people in Lawrence who do not own cars because they have become unable to drive for a variety of reasons or cannot afford to own a vehicle.Then there are those who understand the importance of not driving each time to a desired destination.It appears as though this commission wants to kill the T because a .2 percent sales tax is not enough to keep the T in operation and commission members know this. Do not vote for anyone who will not commit to supporting public transportation. Why Public Transportation?http://www.publictransportation.org/

monkeyspunk 6 years, 9 months ago

"May I asked how you got around prior to Dec 16th, 2000 when the T first started service?"Considering that was 8 years ago, he may not have been a retiree and may have had a car. Good job trying to be a twat though.

Eileen Jones 6 years, 9 months ago

It is extremely regressive thinking to get rid of public transportation at a time when the whole country should be moving as much as possible to public transportation.The problem with the T is that it is not easy enough for more people to ride it. The routes and times need to be altered. Charging even more will only decrease ridership. I maintain the T helps the city prosper in ways that cannot easily be measured. My teenagers take the T downtown - at least one of them does this on any given day - and spend all their money there. With two parents working we cannot chauffeur them downtown during working hours every day and they would not be able to support the local economy the way they do. Money spent at local business is money circulating locally and sales taxes increased. I am more disappointed in the shortsightedness of this city commission than I can say.Improve the T. Anything else, at peak oil, is stupid.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

"However, with gas prices increasing wouldn't it be nice to have a choice? Wouldn't it be nice to have an alternative to driving?"We do have a choice, and it is more than clear what people choose. I suppose one of the solutions KMA is going to come up with is to try to force people to board the bus. Desperate, last ditch efforts because they know this tax will not pass. The numbers are greatly against them, so now they have to find some creative ways to continue to force the non-riders to pay for the few riders. They are probably the same ones who care so much for the environment - unless it threatens to kill their filthy, polluting, gas guzzling, street eating bus.Why are there even fewer bozos on the bus in these days of $4.00 gas?

repaste 6 years, 9 months ago

Those SUV's are subsidized as well, the increased accident, higher repair cost, cost to build are all spread to smaller cars, not to mention tax incentives.

repaste 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey none, you see very many overweight people in cities where mass transit rules? The bus requires a lot of walking, it inables you to go from 15 & Wak to 9th & Iowa. The bus is part of a healthy lifestlye.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Also, most other bus systems don't take you from door to door.They require a little walking on each end, and/or between transfers.Apparently folks here expected/demanded door to door service, which is why the bus snakes around downtown rather than simply stopping on major streets.

monkeyspunk 6 years, 9 months ago

My only issues with the T are the overly optimistic arrival/departure times and the policy of "pull the cord when you want to get off." If the T can make it from 6th and Kasold to 9th and Mass in 10 minutes, I would be incredibly surprised. Also, what is with the 8:00 arrival time downtown? Not very logical really, especially if you work at 8:00. I love my job, but I have no desire to be here 30 to 40 minutes before work. =)Until I get my bike fixed, I may take the T to work a few days a week. Will just have to pull my butt out of bed a little earlier I guess and find something productive to do before 8!

HMcMellon 6 years, 9 months ago

If you project the ridership during the past few months (since gas prices have dramatically risen), the T would be in the black, especially if fares increased a little to cover increased fuel costs. Unfortunately, most of our commissioners are not very bright. Given their continued support for building homes for communters and sorting warehouses for trucked-in goods, they apparently believe that fuel prices will soon go back to $1 per gallon. Other communities in our region have intelligent commissioners, who are not laboring under such delusions. Why don't we???

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

The "T" bus system is quite flawed - I and my wife have wanted to use it from several different locations in town where we lived. Each time it would have taken about 45 minutes (including a 20-minute wait downtown), rather than a 10-15 minute drive.Also, we would have had to go away from our destination to get downtown to transfer.This combination of poor routes and schedules makes it impractical for many working people to use the buses.Unless ridership increases dramatically, the bus system is a poor bet environmentally as well - the buses get about 6mpg.In addition, for the fare collection to be commensurate with other public transit systems, fares and/or ridership need to rise.I have expressed my concerns to Mr. Galante, who runs the system. He didn't seem very interested in them. Please contact him if you have similar concerns and ideas - maybe if he got more public input he'd be more interested.Thank you.

repaste 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey, the sales tax for streets, I do not drive why the heck should I pay for your streets when I buy a gallon of milk? Get real folks, you cannot make a rational case that you are "paying someone's way" by financing the T. The decreased cost to the city as a whole are a great bargain. Grandma saiz 'penny wise, dollar foolish"

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

"Why do people like myself have to take care of you T riders?""Because we all enjoy the benefits provided by low-wage workers." ... and... even if we didn't "benefit" from these, our fellows.

LogicMan 6 years, 9 months ago

There's an interesting short history of Lawrence's and KU's trolley and bus systems on-line at:http://history.lawrence.com/project/community/transportation/transportation.html

lindad 6 years, 9 months ago

Stain - you are right on all points!& Moderationman also I have used the T in the past & am seriously considering how to make it work now - though I live & work farther from the last points than I like - but - with right shoes for after the bus maybe I can make it work.The T routes do need work!I, too, when I have ridden, have never been the only one on the bus though usually it has been 1/4 to 1/2 full.I grew up in an area with public transportation & when we came to Kansas was very dissappointed that such a wonderfully community had no public transportation. Riding a bicycle or moped, even discounting bad weather days when it wouldn't work well & be able to go dressed nice to work - is too dangerous with the traffic in this town.The T is a major plus for this town - run right - it should attrack people and businesses to this town - if talk of getting rid of it or pricing it out of existence doesn't keeping re-occuring

bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

so spiderman/cool is panting after $7 gas, in part caused by the enviros/greenie-wheenies preventing us from drilling! that's corrupt, and they claim to be so sensitive about the needs of the poor! riiiiiiight. and, I'm still waiting for sliderman/unCool to fulfill his promise of the other day and go away! he really said it! let's see him do it. ***Topless bus drivers.I don't know, some of those men, I think it'd be a money-loser. now, onbus movies? onbus concessions? maybe that'll bring some money after all. if you want the topless thingy, the T needs to do a calendar: "the women of the T" showing them in bus-related poses. you know, the ads on the sides of the bus don't have to be static, painted-on perminent signs. instead, we could put on big LED type screens that could be programmed. it could feature the daily special at jefferson's...if they had one. it could change every week, highlighting the sale at Checkers. you'd get more money than with painted on ads.

independent_rebel 6 years, 9 months ago

Of course, if the vocal minority succeeds in keeping the T alive, their next move is to try to legislate the use of the T by forcing people to use it. Their next move would be to close downtown parking garages, close off areas of town to vehicle traffic(other than the T), force city employees and all downtown residents and workers to ride the T, etc.The liberal/socialists don't want a vote because they know they are on the losing side of the T arguement. Of course, they won't accept the "no to the T" vote any more than they did when Lawrence VOTED for the SLT a generation ago. Of course, many who voted for the SLT are dead at the present time, as ol' Casey would say if he was alive to say it. But he's dead.I regret to say, so is Agnes T. Frog. Poor thing...she was squished by a T bus just the other day crossing 31st St.

Phil Minkin 6 years, 9 months ago

I am a 65 year old retiree with no car, a bike and good walking shoes, but I still need the T for trips to the doctor(before one of the cynics asks, I tried finding one within walking distance, but none were taking new patients), grocery and an occasional movie and Target trips. I see people going to and from work, kid going to the pool, rec center and, I assume, people interested in not driving for what ever reason. For those who complain that the buses are not always full, why not complain that you see fire engines not in use. It's periodic demand requiring constant supply.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

The EMPTY CARS outnumber the not empTy bus by a longggggggg shot. Roads,roads roads and more roads require far more tax dollars than the T will ever require.

Sigmund 6 years, 9 months ago

Stain (Anonymous) says: "It is extremely regressive thinking to get rid of public transportation at a time when the whole country should be moving as much as possible to public transportation."Why? You seem to imply there is some economic or ecological advantages to running 6 miles per gallon buses with and average number of 7 riders (the mean number of riders is likely much lower) per route. It is just more rhetorical nonsense from people like Boog who don't mind putting the whole of Lawrence's economic health in jeopardy so long as the empTy is never cut no matter how unsound. In point of fact as the price of gas goes up the less the empTy makes any sense at all. As for the "socially conscious" voters, what other competing social good could be accomplished with the $2,600,000 per year, year after year, that we waste on running empTy buses? Food pantries, breaks for the elderly on utility bills, City recycling programs? Don't imagine the empTy doesn't suck money from these potential initiatives as well.If the empTy is so important to the quality of life of the riders why doesn't the City Commission raise the fare? $4.00 per ride covers half of the cost with the City picking up the other half, that is what you call a "compromise" and it is a fair fare. The bus huggers position is no matter what the cost (at least no limit I have heard), no matter how many other good things could be accomplished with the money, the City must have the empTy and the fare must never be increased. That ideological intransience is the major reason Lawrence can't move forward on this and many other issues.

igby 6 years, 9 months ago

Reduce the T buses down to 5 small buses. Then fire the Calico which manages the T. Then fire all the appointees that we don't need. Then run the 5 T buses like a cab company, picking up handicap people and charge a comparable rate and then vouchers can be given to the needy.If a moped driver runs over a T buses there just has to be too many of them running around town.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 9 months ago

"As it stands this sales tax proposal is coming off as more of a fiasco than a sincere effort to accomplish anything."Perhaps the CC wants to prove a point. That point being that a large majority of the sucked dry property owners, who don't, and never will ride the bus, will be the hatchet for the MT. It is actually very clever of the CC to put it to a vote, since the previous PLC CC would never think of giving up that kind of control prior to their banning of life as we knew it in Lawrence. Not to mention how they killed the city during their reign of terror. It will be a great day when every last vestige of their legacy is removed for good.I seem to recall that merrill is one of the folks who has been screeching about letting the good citizens voices be heard via the voting booth, or was it just for stuff he opposes? Can't have it both ways, dude. How is that helpless feeling setting with you?Besides, this vote will most definitely accomplish something ...

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

jafs: "The "T" bus system is quite flawed - I and my wife have wanted to use it from several different locations in town where we lived. Each time it would have taken about 45 minutes (including a 20-minute wait downtown), rather than a 10-15 minute drive."I have to agree.As a student living off-campus without a car (some 20 years ago), I relied heavily on the KU bus system to get about, and not only for transportation to and from classes. I don't recall ever having to endure long waits or lengthy walks.My (albeit limited) experience with the T is that I spent more time walking and waiting than I did commuting, and this includes time waiting while ON the bus. Who has hours to get around town?So, I've opted out, personally... but anyone needing this resource-anyone prepared to make the effort to maintain employment or otherwise provide for a family with limited means-has my "subsidy."

tvc 6 years, 9 months ago

The other day people were complaining that bicycles should not be on the road. Today we don't want to fund the T. I guess I will go fill up my SUV with ethanol and drive around town.

Phil Minkin 6 years, 9 months ago

none2 (Anonymous) says: foodboy (Anonymous) says:"I am a 65 year old retiree with no car, a bike and good walking shoes, but I still need the T for trips to the doctor.."-May I asked how you got around prior to Dec 16th, 2000 when the T first started service?Foodboy replies:I relied(and still do occasionally) on the kindness of others, but I enoy being able to be self-sufficient. Whether you're 14 or 40 with no car, being able to get around Lawrence with being a burden on others allows you to be independent. All those who are so adamantly against the T, please get compile a list of young people, families with 2 or more jobs and only one car, people with disabilities or those without cars and provide them 6 day a week transportation at a reasonable rate.

McShindig 6 years, 9 months ago

RARRRR!!!!!!! BUSES BAD!!!!! BUSES BAD!!!!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"That's a pretty big "If"."And if they don't have cars, without the "T," they wouldn't be going to work, or school or shopping, or the doctor, or some other activity that allows this community to function better. It's a cinch that most "T" riders aren't just joyriding.

handley 6 years, 9 months ago

maybe their is a law against it but why not sell advertising on the T-bus system

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

"You seem to imply there is some economic or ecological advantages to running 6 miles per gallon buses with and average number of 7 riders (the mean number of riders is likely much lower) per route."If all 7 riders drove separately in cars getting 20 miles per gallon, that would be less than 3 miles per gallon. So, yes, even at 6 mpg, the bus uses less gas than taking SOV's. Not to mention the decreased need for parking lots, reduced congestion, etc., etc. These advantages get even better with increased ridership, and this system has apparently been designed to limit ridership. Fix the T, don't scrap it.

HMcMellon 6 years, 9 months ago

independent_rebel, I stand by my statement. Clearly you are living in the past. The ridership is up considerably since the price of fuel has increased. Ridership will continue to increase, and the bus system will become more and more viable. Gas prices may come down a little in the months ahead, but they are never going to be back to the way they were in the good old days. They will eventually go up to $5/gallon, $10/gallon and more. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are in denial and are living in a dream world. Transit systems have been used in America for more than 100 years. They are no more socialistic than street repairs or traffic lights. Raising taxes to pay for development is much more socialistic than raising taxes for mass transit. Further, we are already seeing the bus system moving toward being in the black. It may even become a profit-making enterprise for the city when fuel costs reach $10 or more per gallon. You are laboring under delusions to believe that we can utilize the plentiful gas and hot air from folks like you. To kill the bus system now when it is starting to show viability is just plain stupid..

bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

Jafs,I'm not surprised you had that experience with Cliph at the transport office. he put in a punitive set of fare increases with only the justification of decreasing usage on the paratransit. paratransit riders, least able to absorb increase, fares increased by 50% and a few months later, an additional 33% compounded. most paratransit rides don't require the big heavy low-mpg buses, a small four-door would do fine! heck, for many, a small two-door could cover paratransit rides. ***one very simple way the T in its current form discourages ridership: buses aren't set to the same time each hour; in other words, you can't know that your route passes your stop at a certain time each hour. your bus starts from downtown at varying times during each hour! this means that potential riders don't know intuitively when to catch the bus! just simply putting the routes on a syncronized clock, so you could catch your bus at 35-past the hour, each hour, would increase ridership!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

"I seem to recall that merrill is one of the folks who has been screeching about letting the good citizens voices be heard via the voting booth, or was it just for stuff he opposes? Can't have it both ways, dude. How is that helpless feeling setting with you?" It is disegenious to propose a sales tax that passes or fails will not not support the T. It is a lie.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

"what were they thinking ?Oread Inn subsidiesLJW story, Oread Inn Subsidies up for approval:"A verbal explanation of how local developers rip the taxpayers:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWVOPy7NaDM&eurl=http://www.progressivebookclub.com/pbc2/home.pbc?srcKey=42E0D4The explanation helps all understand our local problem.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

"At present, commissioners have expressed support for placing a 0.2 percent sales tax for transit and a 0.3 percent sales tax for improved street maintenance, sidewalks and infrastructure."After the property tax supplement is removed a 0.2 sales tax increase will not fund the T operation. It is likely a sales tax will fail across the board. Even if was successful it is not enough to fund the T. So what's up? "A 0.3 percent sales tax for improved street maintenance, sidewalks and infrastructure."1. Why should older neighborhoods where maintenanceis sorely necessary be required to pay an additional new tax over and above the maintenance taxes that have been paid annually for the past 50-100 years? Where did the money go?2. The word infrastructure is one to not be taken lightly on this matter. What that means is some of the sales tax dollars would be spent for NEW streets aka local corporate welfare. 3. City Hall keeps saying older streets and sidewalks cannot be repaired because there is no money after 50-100 years of contributions to the maintenance cookie jar. Why is city hall even thinking about new streets?4. As it stands this sales tax proposal is coming off as more of a fiasco than a sincere effort to accomplish anything.

Boston_Corbett 6 years, 9 months ago

Marion, TABOR is an invention and pet project of the super-rich, super-secret Koch brothers and their pet organization, Americans For Prosperity. It is all about the rich getting richer, under the rubric of "cutting taxes." I see you have drunk their Kool-Aid. No thank you.

blessed3x 6 years, 9 months ago

(Assuming 5 day schedule, I don't know if the T's run on the Weekend.)Somebody kicked out the 7 person per bus figure and I thought, shoot, that's about what my minivan holds!20 brand new minivans @ $20,000 ea = $400,00020 drivers @ $15.00 per hour = $624,000 per yearAdd 50% for benefits, insurance, AD&D, etc... = $936,000Insurance on the vans $1000 per van per year = $200,00050 miles/day/van = 250 miles/week/van =13,000 miles per year/van x 20 vans = 260,000 miles per year/20 mpg (that's what my van gets in town) = 13,000 gallons x $5.00 per gallon (figuring on the cost going up) = $65,000 for fuelRoutine maintence and repairs = $1,000/van/year (these are new vans) = $20,000.Single administrator and assistant (takes the phone calls, handles paperwork, etc.) = $50,000/yr + $30,000/yr = $80,000/yr + 50% for benefits = $120,000Rent office Space and Van Lot (Complete Guess) = $3,000 per month = $36,000/yearAt the end of the year donate old minivans to local charities to allow for purchase of new ones.Total cost with NO liability on the part of the riders = $1,777,000 . Charge just $0.25 per mile (about 1/20th of a cab ride) and the total cost of the program is $1,712,000 per year.Please check my match.The public is still spending money to subsidize the system but we just saved nearly a million dollars and we don't have these huge vehicles on the road, blocking traffic, belching out huge amounts of diesel fumes, etc... The customer gets picked up at their door and delivered directly to their destination. Twenty-two people just got decent jobs. Also, dozens of charities and organizations will receive VERY nice minivans at no cost at the end of the year. If you wanted, you could sell the vans at a deep discount for $10,000 ea = $200,000 making the minimum total cost $1,512,000 or keep the minivans for 3 or 4 years to dramatically lower costs over time. You would have the flexibility of running a portion of the vans as a taxi service and having the remainder run set routes. The current system is incapable of picking up people at their doors. Roll this system and some of the other transportation systems (ATA, etc...) together and you could cut costs even further. Equip each van with a bike rake and a few vans with handicap accessible equipment and I think we have a winner.Anybody want to take a guess on what would happen to me if I showed up at the meeting with this idea?

beebo 6 years, 9 months ago

Riders pay less than TEN PERCENT of the annual budget for the bus system. 6.6% to be exact for 2007. Why even bother to collect ANYthing from the riders, then you could cut payroll costs for the folks that empty the fareboxes, count the money, issue the passes, make the deposits, and account for all that activity. 6.6% -- that is just embarassing and downright ridiculous. Lincoln, NE is at 14%.....

independent_rebel 6 years, 9 months ago

Wake up people. The facts are in. There is no logical reason to debate this issue. No matter how you cut it...Lawrence does not have the need for the T. Lawrence does not have the funds for the T. Lawrence does not, and will not(important), use the T in numbers that will justify the effort to keep funding it.Less than 1 percent of the population of Lawrence uses the T. Even with the insane increases in gas, people with the means, and those without the means(important), choose NOT to ride the T.Rich, middle, and poor. No matter the class, less than 1 percent ride the T.Those with no personal transportion, those with multiple forms of personal transportation...less than 1 percent ride the T. This is not a European designed, or East Coast designed, city. We are spread out. Believe it or not, most people who live here don't live in an area conveinient for them to use the T. And for those who live in areas where there could be an argument supporting riding the T? Well, less than 1 percent of them use the T.Perhaps in 20 or 30 years Lawrence my be ready to justify a bus system, but you can't justify it now. Every arguement in support of the T is flawed.One poster states he has no car and like the T because it makes him feel self-sufficient? Uh, no. You are using others to support your choice.What did people do before the T? I'll tell you what they did. They found a way. Funding the T is income redistribution, and I can't afford it. I barely get by as it is, and I'm being taxed right out of this town I've lived in my entire life. Pigging-backing this on the street improvment bill is a shameful act by people who know they are in the wrong.

Godot 6 years, 9 months ago

I will confidently vote "no" for any sales tax increase, for whatever reason, because I do not trust the City to spend the bounty as promised, and I will more confidently vote to remove any commissioner who even dares to suggest there should be an increase in the mill levy to support the EmpT.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

New York Times 1990To the Editor:I agree, the damage we are doing to the earth's environment and our health by increasing dependence on private automobiles is deplorable (''Big Wheels: How Dreams of Clean Air Get Stuck in Traffic,'' Week in Review, March 11). It is all the more tragic as it could be greatly reduced.Also, with more than 20 percent of our trade deficit going to feed our fuel-wasting habit, legislative inaction is compromising national strategic interests. Our inability to decrease this wastefulness will deplete the wealth that has made the United States a superpower and allowed our democratic institutions to stand as an example for the world.The slower we are to act, the further our landscape will adapt to transportation economics: suburban sprawl increases, cities decay, forests become shopping malls, and the cost of mass transportation climbs. With each year, the risk increases that changes will not be democratically chosen but an economic force, possibly a disaster, affecting all Americans.We are a society where it is expensive to own a car and cheap to drive one. Any shift in this equation would thus be a change for the better for our society.However, ''no new taxes'' and the failure of most of our citizens to attribute any of the world's problems to their own consumption-oriented life style make the outlook grim.Instead of shifting the responsibility to the states, Washington should impose a substantial uniform Federal excise tax on gasoline, to be phased in over a period of years. Disposing of the additional cash should prove no problem.WHARTON SINKLERPhiladelphia, March 11, 1990

HMcMellon 6 years, 9 months ago

screenposter, I'm not sure you need to increase fares at all. I doubt it is correct, but a post above that said it costs $8.00 per passenger for the "T i" when it is 10% full. Obviously, if it were full, it would cost only 80 cents per passenger. The City probably wouldn't need a fuel surcharge at all given the current need for mass transit and increase ridership that has occurred in the last six months. I know that all is over your head since it sounds like you are one of the guys who supported borrowing trillions from the commies in China and the totalitarians in Saudi Arabia to pay for all of Bush's boondoggles and give-aways to the tax-sucking monopolies. BTW, the price of gas would still be reasonable were it not for you guys causing the value of the dollar to drop 40% due to your liberal and foolish fiscal policies of "borrow-and-spend.". It's time for change and time to send you commie-loving, liberal fiscal idiots back to the asylum you came from and put some true fiscal conservatives in office both locally and nationally.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 9 months ago

wow,screedy, you are starting to sound gasp conservative! you are correct, the same logic, and they want to manage health care! if I were in canada, I would have died several times over because of the lack of specialists, and the waiting lists to see them! no, not exaggerating! and, what an amazing rant by mellonHead! just amazing.

Solutions101 6 years, 9 months ago

How about we think of a solution to our problems? Instead of having a one track mind of "either increase our taxes or have the city without a bus system" and think of a win-win situation. The solution is clear. The city and KU need to merge the bus systems. Why? Both of these bus systems are in deficit. The "T" is going to keep costing more to have with oil prices increasing and maintenance. With the KU bus system, there is a surplus of buses that do not get used enough while increasing fees to ALL students to fund.With doing this, the cost is lower to fund one bus system instead of two separate ones and everyone has to opportunity to ride the bus. This is a step towards the right direction to help the city, KU, citizens and the economy. Above all, THERE IS NO NEED TO INCREASE SALES TAX!

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

Marion: "Put it to a popular vote. Scared to do that?"Marion: "The Founding Fathers specifically avoided implementing a simple 'majority rule' and for very, very good reasons...." Sorry... I was paying attention....

independent_rebel 6 years, 9 months ago

Wait a minute, Jayhawklawrence, what are you talking about?Please tell me you are not advocating spending tax dollars turning the T into a joyride! You wrote:"Make the ride more fun. Make one bus a tour bus with a history lesson while traveling around Lawrence. The history of Lawrence tour could be a very cool thing. Along the route, stop for a meal at a popular spot or stop at the history museum for the meal. Get people interested in Lawrence history."The entire point of the T--according to its few but LOUD supporters, is to provide transportation to NEEDED activites such as jobs, shopping, and medical appointments. Not joyride. The few who ride the T complain enough as it is about where the routes are and how long it takes...no you want to make it in joyride with stops for restaurants and historical homes?I don't think anyone who supposedly uses the T for NEEDS would enjoy that idea. While I enjoy Lawrence history I'd venture that most of the freeloaders who "depend" on the T to "live" have no interest whatsoever in Lawrence history. I have heard more and more Tbackers throw out "ideas" to "encourage" people to ride the T. So, if I undertand your idea, it is to try and draw folks who have no NEED to use the T system to ride the system for a historical tour and to stop at popular stops along the way. That idea would fail miserably. Heck, the T can't even attract riders when it's FREE to use on a day that just about everyone dreads driving and parking downtown--the sidewalk sale! I mean, this was advertised, promoted, everyone knew for months what day the sale took place on...and less than 2,000 people used the T on that day. So what will T backers do when they can't get riders when they "encourage" people to use the T?Their next step--because it is now clear folks don't want to use the T--will no doubt be to try and "force" people in our community to use the T.

Kathy Gates 6 years, 9 months ago

Question time--why haven't they upped the fee to ride the bus? They seemed to have no problem with upping the fee to use the public swimming pool, making the cost increase payable by the people who use the pool. Why not do the same thing with the T?

Chris Ogle 6 years, 9 months ago

With actual cost per boarding in excess of $45.00 for the T, taxi rides would be more cost effective. Riders would have to qualify for $1.00 rides. The rest of us pay 5.00. Transportation susidy of 1/2 mill could possibly cover it with the Fed match.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

At 6mpg vs. 20mpg, it would take about 3-4 passengers to make the T equal to driving separate cars.That assumes that the T is taking a straight forward efficient route to your destination, which is often not the case.For example, to get from 6th and Michigan to 31st and Iowa (both fairly populous areas), you have to take a bus downtown (away from your destination), and then back out. Of course the route out is not as direct as one could drive it.If you combine those inefficiencies, I believe it would take more like 6-7 passengers just to break even environmentally, assuming no one gets more than 20mpg in their cars.The smart (and obvious) way to structure the buses more efficiently would be to have them drive along major roads in both directions. That way, using my example above, one could pick up a bus heading west on 6th to Iowa, and transfer to a bus heading south on Iowa (which is how I would drive). It's direct, takes less time, and would make the system more accessible and usable for most people.It is also the way that good bus systems are structured in larger cities, which have excellent usage of their public transportation systems.Also, fare collection usually accounts for a higher percentage of the costs.Restructuring the routes/schedules to make the system more usable, and increasing fares to make fare collection a more reasonable percentage, would go a long way towards making the system more economically and environmentally sound.Again, please contact Cliff Galante at the city to share your comments - I've spoken with him and relayed my thoughts, which he seems fairly uninterested in.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

"Less than 1 percent of the population of Lawrence uses the T."Wellllllll... if it's less than one percent, I say kill 'em. Make that final run count... mount a Gatlin' gun on each vehicle and..."Kill kill kill kill kill the poor Kill kill kill kill kill the poor Kill kill kill kill kill the poor, tonight!"

independent_rebel 6 years, 9 months ago

HMcMellon. You are mistaken.Take out the multiple "free days" and there is no increase in ridership of the T in 2008. Ridership is down.Fixed route riders, 2007 vs. 2008 (from the T's own website):Jan. 07: 35,196//Jan.08: 29,879 Feb.07: 31,451//Feb.08: 29,147Mar.07: 36,413//Mar.08: 29,179Apr.07: 33,346//Apr.08: 31,392 (close, but no cigar)May 07: 35,102//May 08 31,778A decrease in ridership from 2007 to 2008 every month, despite record gas prices. Where is the increased "need?" It doesn't exist.The paratransit, which I have more sympathy for, has also experienced decreased ridership every month in 2008 compared to 2007.The T website also says the T "experienced a notable increase in riders July 17, as it offered a free ridership day in conjunction with the Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale. There were 1,987 riders on the T that day, a 54% increase over the average daily ridership in July. Average daily ridership so far this month has been 1,293 passengers, which is a 5% increase over the same month last year."The T is rocking so far this month, with a 5% increase...a percentage that looks promising now but is one that will go down as the month goes along and the free T day is spread out.When you also factor in that 1/3 of the riders admit they ride the T by choice, guess who that 1/3 is made up of.Of course, we anti-T folks know good and well that the 1/3 is made up of the vocal minority T-backers trying to "prove" the T ridership is increasing at a frantic rate by hopping on now to skew the numbers. It's all a big fraud, and we know it.Of course, the T is still being used by only 1 percent of the population despite this increase. You must also consider the continuous expense at opperating the busses, how often they must be "exchanged" for new busses, etc..

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

Better promotion and salesmanship.Try new and innovative ways to encourage ridership. Hire a good marketing person and pay them incentives for increased profits. Become capitalists.Make the ride more fun. Make one bus a tour bus with a history lesson while traveling around Lawrence. The history of Lawrence tour could be a very cool thing. Along the route, stop for a meal at a popular spot or stop at the history museum for the meal. Get people interested in Lawrence history.Stop acting like a typical government welfare service and get some energy into the business. "It's cool to ride the T".Sell ads on the side of the buses. Sell shares in the business to Lawrence residents. Shareholders ride for free.Act like it is your business and not a government handout. Get some college marketing students interested in coming up with ideas. Do a Trump kind of thing and give a prize for the best results. Have buses compete with each other for riders, etc. etc. etc.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Some on here are truly NOT concerned about tax dollars or local corporate welfare. Or perhaps they are on the receiving end of corporate welfare.If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, Lawrence would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services thus an increased demand for maintenance thus increase in cost to the city.Historically the funding of revenues generated by a single-family housing does not pay for the services they require from a municipality = tax and fee increases.Developers and cars are two very expensive budget items. Both demand roads and water/sewer lines at taxpayer expense. More streets = more cars = more people = more tax increases. Developers plans consistently increase all citizens taxes and fees.Housing projects cost considerably more to maintain than a "Better T", excellent biking options and walking options all of which serve the general public. A "Better T" plus walking and biking options encourage citizens to leave vehicles at home thus less demand for parking, less abuse of expensive streets,less congestion and less air pollution = a fiscally prudent investment.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

"Group to discuss ways to save bus system"Buses are fairly large vehicles; add facades which make them resemble whales....

sdinges 6 years, 9 months ago

jafs: "The "T" bus system is quite flawed - I and my wife have wanted to use it from several different locations in town where we lived. Each time it would have taken about 45 minutes (including a 20-minute wait downtown), rather than a 10-15 minute drive."Exactly! When I moved to Lawrence from Ontario, I didn't even have my license. I assumed I would take the bus to KU - until my husband laughed at me and said it would take me two hours to get to school, including a ride downtown. When I looked into it, with scheduling and my part of town - he wasn't far off the mark. I got my license and drove the 20 minutes instead.

simplifying 6 years, 9 months ago

A bus system is in the same category as fire protection, police protection, sidewalks, roads, schools, etc. It should not need to "support" itself anymore than the fire department or police departments support themselves. A modern city without a mass transit system is clearly backward. I have no problem paying more taxes for these types of services.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

If the T system was designed with no idea of how to boost ridership, respond to the market, and pay for itself, it is irresponsible to have started it in the first place.Most of the complaints are about the inefficient timing of the routes and the overall operation. I think it should be run like a business and if it does not pay its way, it should be gone. But first an analysis of whether it can pay its way with a better management structure and business plan should be attempted.

penguin 6 years, 9 months ago

The answer is not to merge. The city will only agree to merger under the conditions that are not good for KU students. Right now, students have great control over their system in all aspects. Under any merger scenario the city would want this practice ended. KU students have stepped up and agreed to pay for their bus system with fees. I don't see the citizens of Lawrence stepping up in the same way (as is present from the unending negative comments anytime when buses are mentioned). The T has been doomed by bad planning from the outset and there is no clear indication it will change anytime soon. Also the rides are a myth...follow the numbers and you will see that the city is counting rides that are not on the city routes...all I need to say is "Park and Ride"

HMcMellon 6 years, 9 months ago

bearded_gnome, it sounds like you are also a fiscal liberal like screenposter. The high taxes we are paying in Lawrence are due fiscal liberals like you on prior city commissions sticking it to the taxpayers to pay for development. Now, we have another bunch of socialistic fiscal liberals in charge. They want to throw away all that has been invested in the bus system and give it away to their developer friends for more commuter housing and sorting warehouse, both of which only made sense when gas was $1 per gallon. The reason we went to mass transit in the first place was to prepare for the day when fuel costs would make the bus system viable. Now that that day has come, the fiscally-liberal idiots on the commission want to scrap all that has been invested. You can't get any dumber than that! That's same kind of dumb that caused our Federal Government to borrow two trillion from the commies and totalitarians during the past 8 years. It would be one thing if they spent all that borrowed money on the people, but instead, they gave it away to big corporations that could not exist without taxpayer subsidies. Now they are giving it away to banks! That's pure socialism from people who claim to be otherwise. We see a similar kind of socialism in Lawrence with our tax dollars being given away to developers (or at least raising our taxes to cover what the developers should have covered.)Curiously, after supporting driving the US economy in the ditch with your liberal fiscal foolishness during the past eight years, you guys have the audacity to claim that fiscal conservatives, who have been sitting on the sidelines while you guys drive up debt and give our tax dollars away to the rich, can't do as good of job as you have done the past 8 years. That's hilarious!

Boston_Corbett 6 years, 9 months ago

Needed: Lots of squirrel cages, squirrels, pullies and such. Recycle squirrel poop for use in organic farms.

Newell_Post 6 years, 9 months ago

Q: What did people do before the "T"?A; This goes back quite a few years, but one of the things they did is to ride buses operated by private companies. I don't know the details, but I don't remember any huge public subsidies for those systems in the bad old days. The "T" is a classic case of a bunch of communists using government authority to confiscate large sums of money and then spending that money to setup their own pet program which mostly just interferes with the operation of an efficient market system. The issue here isn't "public transportation" it is "bus transportation." The former is Marxist ideology, and the latter concerns practical ways of getting around. If the "sub-si-T" was eliminated, private bus companies would enter the market and very quickly determine which routes to run with which vehicles on what schedule. They would make a profit and the total cost per passenger-mile would plummet. Bus service is indeed very different from police protection. The former is a service where the profit motive works very well. Look what has happened to the cost of airline travel since deregulation. It has plummeted. The flying experience now stinks IMHO, but the "auction market" in air travel has sought out an equilibrium of price, quality, speed, location, and reliability that the air-traveling public supports. Airplanes are really just overblown buses anyway. I don't see any significant difference, and I don't see any rationale for a subsidized government monopoly in bus service when there is none in air service.Instead of calling it the "emp-T" I hereby propose we start calling it the "Sub-si-T." Public subsidy is the problem.

independent_rebel 6 years, 9 months ago

HMcMellon says "The reason we went to mass transit in the first place was to prepare for the day when fuel costs would make the bus system viable. Now that that day has come, the fiscally-liberal idiots on the commission want to scrap all that has been invested."The day has not come where the bus system is viable for Lawrence. Still used by only 1 percent of the population. Same as last year, and the year before, and so on and so forth.For once, the CC is looking at out for the best interests for 99 percent of the community. We we never asked if we wanted the T by way of a vote, yet past socialist commisions forced it upon us anyway. It is irresponsible to waste money on an unneeded transit system that is unwanted and unused by the majority of our citizens. So the Boog solution is to keep wasting money, year after year, so that one day, maybe 20 years from now, we MIGHT actually have a use for the T? Give me a break! How many more years will it be until 3 percent of our population uses the T? We've been stuck at 1 percent since the birth of the T, and ridership is not going up in relationship to the expense of operating the system.What happens if in 10 years from now our cars can run on gas created by burps and farts? Or pushed along by the beat of rap music. I don't know, and neither do you T supporters.You can't justify such an expensive "want" such as the T system--used by 1 percent of the population(even on free days) by looking decades down the line and hope there is a true need at some point. Now, creating a vision or a plan to implement in the future? Fine. But don't waste money on this system year after year in the meantime.We all know the community does not want the T. We all know we can't afford the T. But the T-backers don't care. They are elitists who believe in income redistribution to make themselves feel better. The economy is not doing well, gas and food costs are soaring...yet still, people don't use the T. People don't use the T even when it is free. Why? This is the USA, we like our independence. For me, I enjoy driving. It's my right to drive, and I do it well.

sjschlag 6 years, 9 months ago

"I think it should be run like a business and if it does not pay its way, it should be gone. But first an analysis of whether it can pay its way with a better management structure and business plan should be attempted."No public transportation system pays its way by itself...ever. Even New York City's famous subways/buses/trains operate with a subsidy, and it's one of the most heavily used public transit services! Transportation is a money losing business. Our government and powers that be figured it'd be best to shift that loss on to you, the average citizen. Do you operate your automobile for profit? Does your car make you money? didn't think so. Public transportation is not a profitable business, but selling cars, gas, and insurance is. It is unreasonable to think that the T should be run like a business, since in all actuality it is a public utility or service.There are several ways to make this utility more accessible and attractive to those who pay for it. -Run smaller, more fuel efficient buses on the less patronized routes, like the 1,2,3 and 4, but with the same frequency-Move the bigger buses to more patronized routes (6, 7, 8) and run more frequent service. The 8 Route needs two buses so that intervals are down to 40 minutes. -Sell advertising on the side of the buses and inside-Make the buses burn biodiesel-alter some of the routes so that they are no longer "meandering" around town and on 80 minute loops. Move the routes along major arterial streets with transfer points at major intersections. I'm thinking 3 or 4 buses down Iowa, 3 or 4 going down 23rd, 3 or 4 going down 6th, and so on. Nobody likes riding on slow buses, and I'm sure people hate having to go downtown (out of their way) to transfer. Let's make this system better. With $4 a gallon gas, and rumors of higher oil prices next summer, it seems really silly to cut this service.

HMcMellon 6 years, 9 months ago

none2,You missed my points entirely. Like our commissioners, you apparently still believe fuel prices will go back to $1 per gallon. However, you shouldn't be surprised when fewer people don't want to commute as the price of fuel keeps going up. Some people can't afford to spend $200 to $400 per week for gas, but apparently you can, and that's fine. I'm just saying that in general fewer people will want to commute as the price of fuel increases. I am not putting anyone down for making the decision to commute when gas was $1/gallon. It's just that some (not you, of course) are having second thoughts about their decision as gas hits $4/gallon. Further, most people who were considering moving here from JOCO or Topeka are changing their minds due to the price of fuel.Other communities without bus service are just now making moves toward mass transit. Lawrence was ahead of its time. It is sad that now when the system starts showing a profit that the dummies on our City Commission are basing their decisions on ridership statistics from a period when gas was a whole lot cheaper. But as I said, fiscal irresponsibility and laboring under the delusion that fuel prices will soon return to $1/gallon is a hallmark of the current batch of commissioners. They continue to push for more development for more commuters and for more big box sorting warehouses for trucked in goods despite the new economic realities. History will look back on this current batch of commissioners as the dumbest in the history of our once great city.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.