Archive for Monday, May 12, 2008

Bus demise?

Expanded public transportation may be the wave of the future, but preserving Lawrence’s T won’t be easy.

May 12, 2008


At a time when rising gasoline prices and costly road construction are forcing many communities to expand their public transportation offerings, it's unfortunate that financial realities may lead to the demise of Lawrence's T.

Lawrence city commissioners now are considering a sales tax proposal as a last resort to fund the bus system. The 0.15 percent tax that may be put to voters would provide only enough money to maintain existing services at a projected increase of about $1 million next year.

That's a lot of money, and for many local taxpayers, the T simply isn't worth it. The bus system doesn't come close to being self-supporting and serves a relatively small portion of the city's population.

On the other hand, people who ride the bus have few other options. They depend on it to get to their jobs and appointments. The number of people who can't afford to own or operate private vehicles is likely to grow as gasoline prices rise, and the loss of the T will affect youngsters who ride the bus to recreation and other activities.

A number of factors should be considered as city officials and city residents consider the T's future. If the city kills the T now and finds, five or eight years down the road, that it needs a bus system, how much would it cost to restart the T? It might be better to preserve even a limited service now rather than abandon the effort entirely.

Could the city figure out a way to merge its system with Kansas University's student bus system to preserve federal funding and provide at least some service geared to non-students? Some partnership between the two systems only makes sense.

Unfortunately, Lawrence's T is unlikely to ever break even financially. Most public transit systems require public support, but they have other benefits such as reducing traffic congestion and parking demands.

It's understandable, given the city's current financial situation, that officials are considering cutting their losses and doing away with the service, but perhaps more creative solutions can be found. It would be too bad if the city was unable to provide at least a limited public transportation system for the Lawrence residents who truly depend on it.


Sharon Nottingham 9 years, 10 months ago

20 cents a day equals $73/year per resident to fund the T. I am a resident who never uses it and would rather NOT have to pay for it since there is no benefit to me. The KU bus and the T sometimes travel the same route and I wonder to myself, 'why in the heck don't they merge to benefit more people'?You know, if there was a transit system that could connect people to jobs in Eudora, De Soto, & KC, then I'd be more than happy to shell out the extra money. I've tried to find a carpool person, but have had no luck.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

Yes, we know that those with antisocial tendencies will never ride the bus, notajayhawk, and we'll be glad you don't. But for others who are emotionally stabile enough to do so without adult supervision, having a viable option in addition to cars, biking or walking will be quite welcome, and will see greatly expanded use as fuel prices go through the roof.But if you ever get your license revoked for your road-rage tantrums (you have endless tantrums here, so why wouldn't you while driving,) maybe even you will ride the bus.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

20 cents a day-- that's all it would take per resident to fund the T so that it works for most people most of the time, maybe less if merged with the KU system.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 10 months ago

According to a vocal minority definition of "empty" there must be thousands of tax dollar supported empT cars on the streets 16 hours a day. And way more streets are required to meet the demands of empT cars than is required to meet the demand of bus routes.There is a vocal minority who did not want that tax dollar bus system no matter what. They don't like libraries either. But they like tax supported housing projects even though residential homes do not generate enough revenue to cover the cost to the city they generate. Or they like this rush to build warehouse projects for no tenants and will cost enough for new infrastructure to support the bus for 20 years.

Orwell 9 years, 10 months ago

No municipal transportation system anywhere has ever been expected to "break even." We all knew that when the "T" was created. Yes, the city's fuel costs are way up, but maybe we should wait to see what effect that has on ridership as individuals also affected by those costs look for alternatives to taking their cars everywhere.Alternatively, why don't we also try to make every city service pay its own way through user fees? The fire department has never come to my house, and almost every time I go by a fire station the engines are just sitting there, but I have to pay taxes for them anyway.

bastet 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm not a regular T rider, but it has saved me on a few occasions when I needed transportation. This is a needed city service. Figure out a way to make it work. In a few years, we'll be clamboring for it because we can't afford the gas prices. I don't want to pay more taxes any more than anyone else, but how can we possibly call this a forward-looking community if we bail on a public transit system after only six or seven years. Foolish.

50YearResident 9 years, 10 months ago

Car owners are forced to payer higher gas prices to operate their cars so it is not time for "T" riders to step up and pay higher fees to ride the bus also. Make an immediate ticket price increase to $3 or $4 and see if it will make the "T" get close to a break even service.

KUDB99 9 years, 10 months ago

seems to me that better coordination of this would be in order, as well as better integration with KU on wheels.....It's worth $73/year to me to eliminate that many more cars on 23rd St. and Iowa St. Integrating the T with the K10 bus and the Jo and MAXX in KC would benefit everyone. If there was a bus service that terminated not just in Joco but downtown KC, I'd take it everyday.

gccs14r 9 years, 10 months ago

Quit giving millions away to developers who don't need it and there will be plenty of funding left for the T.

kansassportsnutgal 9 years, 10 months ago

Get over it people!!! The T is not worth all the money that is being paid out! WHY are we paying the same company for the KU transportation ??? WHY? WHY? WHY??? I have to agree with Merrill.

KsTwister 9 years, 10 months ago

A small fleet of mini-vans would make more logic but then again this is Lawrence, Kansas.

KUDB99 9 years, 10 months ago

Let us not be short sighted, folks....It's going to be more expensive now, but gas prices are only going to be getting more expensive, not less expensive. It's time to plan for a future that is not tied directly to our gas guzzling SUV's and energy consuming lifestyles. What Lawrence ought to do is invest more in mass-transit, not less....we should be looking at a commuter rail system to link Topeka, Lawrence, and KC. The infrastructure is already there. Imagine riding the bus to the train depot, hopping on the train and heading to Topeka or KC, instead of having to pay turnpike tolls and $5 gas prices. What a concept!!

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 10 months ago

I agree with the minivan idea. Has it been evaluated by the city? Does it have to be all or nothing?

kansassportsnutgal 9 years, 10 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus --- Why should we have to pay for something the Majority don't even use? It is costing the city so much money to run as well as it is also very bad on the Environment!! Have you ever had to drive behind a T-bus? OMG! It's horrible! I have to agree with hipgal and many others.... The T-bus is a total bust for our community!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 10 months ago

Keep plugging that stinking pit of a 'forum', cool, because goodness knows, people need to see all your LJW posts repeated on another website.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

"20 cents a day equals $73/year per resident to fund the T."Yep, and it'd make for a much better functioning city, and for those who prefer or need to drive, less congestion on the streets."T. I am a resident who never uses it and would rather NOT have to pay for it since there is no benefit to me."Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. That's true of most public services.

one2no 9 years, 10 months ago

So how's about we don't build anymore round-a-bout's and the next time someone wants to build something like a Wal-Mart we don't waste money trying to stop it.Lawrence has great public transit and wonderful fire protection but the both have to fight to get around those damn round-a-bout's.The fact that Wal-Mart has more money than the City of Lawrence on any give day should have been light in the eye to not move forward with a meaningless Law suit.I don't think Lawrence has money to fix the poor streets.

notajayhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: "Yep, and it'd make for a much better functioning city, and for those who prefer or need to drive, less congestion on the streets."The sad thought patterns that pass for 'logic' to a clown.The congestion of which you speak is there precisely because those who prefer or need to drive are doing so. Yes, even with the rising price of gas, there's still not enough interest in the bus system to make it viable. Imagine that.

Bill Lee 9 years, 10 months ago

We can save a lot of money if we eliminate all city services. I haven't been to the library in years, and I never use the parks downtown. They could be paved over for more parking. Garbage fees pay only a portion of the actual costs of this service. Let's raise them! I have never ridden the T, but it's part of what makes me glad I live in Lawrence, Kansas. Expand the coverage and hours, and I might use it.

kansassportsnutgal 9 years, 10 months ago

It's not worth the money it cost for only One percent of the population ! If they would want to keep a few vans and take appts and charge a little more... maybe it would be worth it! But everytime I drive by a T-bus there is Never and I mean Never anyone on them! So Why are we spending the money?? It is very wasteful !!!Hopefully we will get to vote on it and find out then how many really want to waste money on a bus that no one rides!

Emily Hadley 9 years, 10 months ago

The comparative cost of recreating the bus system in the future is an excellent point.Public transit in Lawrence does truly benefit those who don't use it, and it is in ways you do not see, such as increased metering costs, a more balanced and stable economy based on reliable transportation of the workforce, and less traffic congestion.As the city grows, not seeing these negative changes is a sign of success.

motherof4 9 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Lee,Not all of us want to pay for something we are not using, esp. those of us trying to raise a family!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 9 months ago

"Not all of us want to pay for something we are not using, esp. those of us trying to raise a family!"If you're raising a family, chances are there's a long list of things society as a whole is paying for on your behalf.

motherof4 9 years, 9 months ago

Just another bozo... you could be right .... many things society as a whole is paying for middle class famlies. But with less than 1% of our population making use of the T-bus... why spend the money for such a small %?Plus... what are all the T's doing to our air? have you ever gotten stuck behind one in traffic? That alone should be against the law!

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