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Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2008

Questions on system’s future remain

November 2, 2008

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When the Lawrence Public Transit system began operations on the cold, snow-packed day of Dec. 16, 2000, more than the hum of diesel bus engines was in the air. There were the near-screams of jubilation from supporters who had been lobbying for a public bus system for years.

But there also were murmurs from citizens who questioned whether the city needed or could afford such a system.

For the past two years - as city commissioners have felt the impact of a slowing economy - the volume of the debate has increased.

Tuesday is when the debate turns to decision.

Lawrence voters are being asked to decide the fate of two public transit sales tax questions, and in the process determine the future of the city's bus system.

Here's a look at some of the questions surrounding the sales tax and public transit issues.

Q: How many questions are there? How much is the tax?

A: This sales tax election definitely is different from past sales tax ballots in Lawrence. City voters will be presented with three sales tax questions. Question Nos. 2 and 3 are the ones related to the public transit system.

Question No. 2 is a two-tenths of a percent sales tax for 10 years. That equates to 20 cents for every $100 in taxable purchases made in the city. That tax would be used to fund the basic operations of the city's public transit system. Question No. 3 is a five-hundredths of a percent sales tax. That equates to 5 cents for $100 in taxable purchases made in the city. That tax would be used to fund expanded transit service such as purchasing new buses, adding new routes or increasing the frequency of routes. The smaller tax will take effect only if voters also approve the larger tax.

How much will the taxes generate?

If approved, neither of the taxes would start being charged until April 1. The two-tenths of a percent tax is estimated to generate $1.5 million in 2009, and $2.6 million in its first full year in 2010. The five-hundredths percent tax is estimated to generate $376,000 in 2009, and $657,900 in 2010. Both taxes - just the like the proposed infrastructure tax that is Question No. 1 - would expire after 10 years. The only way the tax could exist beyond 10 years is if voters approve it again as part of a citywide election.

Do these sales tax questions apply to both the city's fixed route bus system - the T - and the city's paratransit system for the elderly and disabled?

Yes. City commissioners have selected these two sales taxes as the sole funding source for both the fixed route system and the door-to-door paratransit system that serves people who are disabled or elderly.

If these sales taxes fail, will the bus system really shut down?

It is tough to say anything about the future definitively, but odds are that if sales tax Question No. 2 fails, both the fixed route and paratransit system will shut down by the beginning of 2009. City commissioners have adopted no contingency plan for how they would keep the system running in 2009. The commission has removed from the 2009 city budget all property tax funding for the transit system. The city automatically would become ineligible for the federal funding it receives to help run the transit system because that funding requires a local funding match.

Is there is a way the city could keep a smaller system running if it wanted to?

An old saying in City Hall is that almost anything is possible if you can count to three (the number that equals a majority on the commission). Here are two scenarios.

If the sales taxes fail, the city would still have about $500,000 in reserve funds set aside to buy new buses. That money could instead be used to fund a scaled-down paratransit system for the disabled and elderly. But City Manager David Corliss has said it would be an extremely scaled-down service. Now, the paratransit system operates about 11 buses per day, six days per week. Using just the $500,000 in reserve money, the city could only operate two buses, six days per week.

A second scenario is that the city has about $10 million in a general fund savings account. That's more than enough to run the entire fixed route and paratransit systems. Theoretically, the city can tap into those funds to keep the transit system going. But commissioners have made no commitment to do so, and staff members likely would caution against it.

One wild card is that the next City Commission election is in April, which means three new faces could be joining the commission.

How many people ride the T?

The city says the T provides about 1,200 rides per day, Monday through Saturday. But in terms of how many individuals actually ride the T, that is a tougher number to determine. The city has no good estimate on the number of individuals who ride.

Who rides the T?

According to a 2007 ridership survey conducted by the city, 48 percent of riders are 18 to 34 years old; 55 percent are white, while 16 percent are black; 53 percent are male; 46 percent of riders said they had a household income of less than $15,000 per year; 24 percent said they had an income between $15,000 and $24,999; 78 percent said they didn't have a vehicle available to them when making this particular trip.

How close to capacity do the T buses run?

It depends on when you're measuring. But overall, the buses don't run near capacity. In general, the system has 10 buses on the street every hour. Each bus can comfortably hold 40 people. Based on recent ridership figures, the system over the course of its 14-hour day averages 85 to 100 riders per hour. The capacity of the system at any given time is 400 people (40 riders times 10 buses). But supporters of the system point out that the city's streets don't operate at capacity at all times either. Just like the city streets, the buses are built to handle peak times, which are the morning and evening rush hours. City leaders say at those times the buses operate at much higher levels of efficiency.

Does the city plan to make changes to the bus system if the sales taxes are approved?

Yes. The city has signed a letter of intent to merge, consolidate or coordinate its system with the Kansas University bus systems by July. City Manager David Corliss has said there is no guarantee that the city and university bus systems will fully merge, but he said the goal is for the two systems to provide seamless service for customers. That would mean that both systems would operate off a shared route map and would honor each other's transfer passes. There's also been talk of implementing a "pulse system," where more buses would operate during the morning and evening rush hours, but fewer would operate during the middle of the day.

Will the city start using smaller buses, and start using alternative fuel buses in the future?

City commissioners have stopped short of committing to either idea. City staff members have urged caution in switching to smaller buses because there is fear that the lighter-duty buses will not last as long. Some city commissioners have talked about using compressed natural gas - instead of diesel - to fuel the system. But commissioners also have said they need more information on the impact of such a switch.

You hear some people say the city should just create a taxi cab program to provide service to the needy. Do any cities actually do that?

Yes. Nearby, the largest city to use a taxi cab voucher program as its primary public transit source is Olathe. Leaders of the Olathe system earlier this year told the Journal-World that the system provides about 45,000 rides per year. The city spends about $300,000 in local tax dollars for the system and has received about $240,000 per year in federal grants. But unlike the T, the system is not open to everyone. The system is limited to people who are disabled, elderly or make less than 80 percent of the median income as set by Housing and Urban Development.

Why is the city looking for new funding for the bus system?

The main reason is that costs are increasing. Because of the price of fuel and higher costs to operate aging buses, it is estimated that the city will need to spend $1 million more in 2009 than it did in 2008 to run the system. A big factor is that the city's contract with MV Transportation to operate the system expires at the end of 2008. That contract had a clause that capped the price the city paid for diesel fuel at $1.62 per gallon. The new contract won't have such a cap.

Why is the city insisting on using a sales tax to pay for the bus system rather than property taxes?

Two reasons. One, the City Commission has been reluctant to raise property taxes. Two, commissioners believe the sales tax will be a more stable source of funding for the bus system.

When the city began budgeting for a bus system in 1999, commissioners created a three-mill property tax levy for the system. But over the years - many times when there was a desire to reduce property taxes - commissioners cut the transit mill levy. By 2006, the mill levy had been cut to a low point of six-tenths of a mill.

The transit system was able to operate with such a low mill levy because in the early years the high mill levy had been used to create a large transit reserve fund. Commissioners used money from the transit reserve fund to pay for the general operations of the bus system. But past administrators have said that reserve fund was created to pay for the day when fuel prices increased and buses needed to be replaced. That day has now come, but the reserve fund is now low.

Since the city has eliminated the public transit mill levy, does that mean I'll be getting a property tax break?

Not much of one. City commissioners took all but one-tenth of a mill of the 1.17 mills set aside for transit and shifted it over to the city's general fund and the bond-and-interest fund. That means that in 2009 the city will be using what was the transit mill levy to pay for general city expenses - everything from employee wages to gasoline for mowers and snow plows.

How much does it cost to operate the bus system, and how much money does it generate?

This year, the transit system (both the T and the paratransit service) is expected to have $3.4 million in expenses. It is expected to collect the following revenue: $1 million in local property taxes; $1.5 million in grant money from the Federal Transit Administration; $250,000 in grant money from the Kansas Department of Transportation; and $312,300 in fares paid by riders. The city also is using $336,681 in fund balance money left over from past budgets to make up the difference between projected expenses and revenues.

Since the city used federal money to buy the buses, what will happen to the buses if the system is shut down?

The city will have to send some money back to the Federal Transit Administration. Federal regulations require the city to sell the buses for fair market value once the system no longer is operational. The city will have to return 80 percent of the fair market value of each bus to the FTA. The city has not yet determined the fair market value of each bus. T buses cost $205,795 when purchased new in 1999.

What say will Kansas University students have in any merger or coordination of the city and university bus systems?

Likely a large one. The recently signed letter of intent between KU and the city states that any consolidation or merger will require "appropriate approval" from KU Student Senate. Students also would bring significant funding to the table. Students recently approved new student fees of $44.90 per semester for transit operations and $20 per semester for a bus-replacement fund. Odds are, if students aren't happy with any proposed merger or consolidation of the systems, it won't happen.

Has the T met the expectations that were set for it when it was created?

Supporters of the system say the T has been one of the better performing systems in the country. Three times in the past five years, the system has been awarded the FTA's award of excellence for posting the highest percentage increase in ridership for any urban bus system in the state. Ridership increases for much of the system's history have been above the national average. But the system hasn't met some projections or expectations talked about in the late 1990s. For example, in 1998, the city conducted a scientific survey that included questions about the creation of a public transit system. That survey found 78 percent said they would support creation of a public transit system. More than half of everyone surveyed said they would ride a "convenient" bus system once per week, and 22 percent said they would ride the bus every day. At 1,200 rides per day, those survey numbers have not held out to be true.

Comments

Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

How much does it cost do operate the T?40,500 vehicle hours and 3.4 million for operation. Looks like $83.95 per revenue hour. Hopefully, this includes the paratransit as well as buses. 9 one way passenger trips per revenue hour= $9.32Add the equipment (over 8 years) and we are spending close to $10.00 per ride. Compared to KU on Wheels at less than 70 cents !!!

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somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

And the more money does nothing to guarentee that anything will change with the management. They will then decide they have 10 more years before the HAVE to do anythhing.

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KsTwister 5 years, 9 months ago

Don't give me a percent of the types of riders--I want a number! How do you expect us to find out what the ratio to the number of buses is without one? Until transparency with the cost of this albatross we will vote - NO.

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coneflower 5 years, 9 months ago

Vote YESAnd next spring vote NO to the commissioner running for reelection. The bus will not be manged well until we have a commission that is committed to it.

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coneflower 5 years, 9 months ago

Vote YESIf the system needs tweaking, tweak it. Shutting down the T is not the answer.

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somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

OH, and I think it is interesting how the City has changed it's wording. First they were looking at a merger with KU on Wheels, but now it is just a letter of intent to "explore" a re-vamping of services.Bottom line - still 2 administrations running two systems and "double-dipping" from both the students and the tax payers. Good for them - not for citizens.

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neznayoo 5 years, 9 months ago

dear hawkperchblahblahblah....i am the "boneheaded mother" that you commented on with regards to the T protest. yes, what a horrible thing; to take my children to a march demonstrating for what i think is right. how dare i try and instill a sense of responsibility and accountability for them to stand up for what they believe in and have any opinions. yes, i could have just taken them for a picnic, but who is to say i didn't do that with the remaining hours of my day? would you have been more approving if i was out at 23rd and LA protesting against the tax? with the election only two days away, it's hard to miss that this campaign has been an incessant drumbeat of personal attacks; although it's not surprising. i guess you're just following suit.your comments cause me to disregard anything you have said or will say in the future on any subject.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

It is tough to say anything about the future definitively, but odds are that if sales tax Question No. 2 fails, both the fixed route and paratransit system will shut down by the beginning of 2009. City commissioners have adopted no contingency plan for how they would keep the system running in 2009.Patently untrue. If you read the city budget (available online from the City's site), you'll see that the sales tax revenue won't be transferred to the transit fund until July, and that reserves will be used to fund the buses until then. In other words, for at least six months, the funds are there for a "contingency" plan.>>> Nearby, the largest city to use a taxi cab voucher program as its primary public transit source is Olathe. ... But unlike the T, the system is not open to everyone. The system is limited to people who are disabled, elderly or make less than 80 percent of the median income as set by Housing and Urban Development.Or, gee, just the people who need it? You mean it's possible to use tax money just to support those in need without paying 90% of the cost of transportation for those who choose to save money by spending ours instead?

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notjustastudent 5 years, 9 months ago

These mothers are teaching their kids compassion, and respect for their fellow human beings, something that most of the comments on here do NOT reflect. What's sad is that people actually have the nerve to make staements like "vote with your pocketbooks." It's all ME ME ME on here. The T hasn't had 8 years to fix the problems-- it's not like on day 1 the whole town decided there were problems and that the T should shut down. And what do you think these taxes are? Might they possibly be an attempt to fix the problem? Lets do some math, using me as an example. I have lived in Lawrence for almost 8 years now, and never owned a car. I don't do drugs, I'm not homeless, and I ocassionally enjoy some drinks, no more than the average poster and far less than most Lawrence residents. I rode the T to get myself to jobs (most of the time I worked 2 simultaneously) so that I could save up money and go back to school, because I wanted to make something of my life. Now I'm in school, and I spend maybe $500 a month on the kinds of things that would be taxed. It would cost me $15 a year to give the T a chance. That's something I'm willing to pay, even if I never step foot on that bus again.Lets say you spend $250,000 a year on taxable items. You would still only be spending about $52 a month. Lets assume, as most of you do, that the vast majority of people riding the T are drug using, alcoholic, homeless idiots who contribute nothing to society. Lets assume, though, that there is ONE person who rides the T that isn't like that. Lets call her Alice. She rides the paratransit system because she is confined to a wheelchair, and her husband and any other family she may have had has died or left her to care for herself. Alice needs to go to the hospital once a week for breathing treatments, because she worked SO HARD all her life (and she paid into the system ALL HER LIFE). Her 4 monthly trips would cost you $13 each. And that's assuming she's the ONLY person riding at all.Go ahead and tell me that you would rather go out to eat and leave Alice to fend for herself. Tell me that those cigarettes you smoke are worth more than Alice's life. Or that those jeans that make you look so good are more important. Tell ME that I'm not worth it, that I'm no good and worthless and that you managed to do everything on your own, without parents to help you, so why couldn't I? Just because you DON'T use the T doesn't mean you CAN'T. I bet a bunch of you went to church this morning too, most of which preach to HELP others. And then you come on here and decide that me, and anyone else on the T doesn't deserve it. Not everyone is as lucky as you people! And not everyone who is unfortunate got that way by their own actions. I'm not saying that this thing can be fixed overnight, or even fixed at all. I'm saying that a little less ME ME ME, a little less stigma and elitism, could go a long way in helping fix the system.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

neznayoo (Anonymous) says: "yes, what a horrible thing; to take my children to a march demonstrating for what i think is right. how dare i try and instill a sense of responsibility and accountability for them to stand up for what they believe in and have any opinions."Um - don't you mean 'stand up for what YOU believe in, not themselves, and share YOUR opinions, not form one of their own?**grimpeur (Anonymous) says: "That's the true cost of providing an alternative that will be needed as we withdraw support for and begin to actively discourage the current paradigm of single-occupancy vehicles traveling less than one or more than 15 miles each way every day. These drivers should already be walking, biking, or carpooling, but they drive, alone, with 4-7 empty seats in their 4,000-lb vehicles, which in the main (90% of the time, according to a recent survey (n>900)) are used to transport nothing more than 300-lb. payloads."Who is this "we" you speak of withdrawing support, grimpie? The 2 million licensed Kansas drivers, or the handful that ride the mT? We're all going to change because YOU say we SHOULD? The handful of you can do all the 'active discouraging' you want - it's not as if you have the power to impose your will on the majority (large majority) of your fellow citizens.Yes, grimpie, the gas tax alone doesn't pay for KDOT. Of course, you forget (or just ignore in your dishonesty) that there's also the license and registration fees, sales and property tax on millions of cars, etc. And with over 71% of the kansas population being licensed drivers, we also pay the vast majority of the sales, property, and income taxes that make up the general revenue funds that pay the difference. People that don't drive do pay a small (very small) amount of the costs of roads, but then they still benefit from them whether they drive or not.Unlike you, grimpie, nobody's trying to tell you how you should* travel. We're just saying we're tired of paying for it. We pay our own way, when do you stop standing here with your hand out? Consider the "no" votes as 'active discouragement' of your feeloading lifestyle.****Windlass (Anonymous) says:"The problem with the T isn't that people are poor. The problem is that people are rich. What is a bus service compared to a $700 billion-dollar bailout?""Seems like taxes could mean a couple of things here: a very necessary transit system, and a "fine" leveled at the rich in place of the prison sentences we all know they're never going to get."And that's what it's all about with you, isn't it, winch, class envy? It's a crime to be rich? Hey, now that's a new version of the American dream. Don't worry, when the Messiah takes office, he'll take care of you so you don't have to aspire to anything.

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Edina 5 years, 9 months ago

Notajayhawk, I am very willing to pay -- because I can. The fare doubled since I moved here, and I kept on paying it. I could and would pay even a more significant fare increase, no problem. But not everyone can easily pay, and ridership decreased when the fare increased. The bus is not just for people like me who can easily pay. I'm not sure it's accurate that people "chose" car culture. It is what was here and what they grew up with and what they know and are used to, and I'm not surprised that an inconvenient system was not quickly adopted. I was a little surprised to read comments that suggested only elderly or handicapped or poor people ride the bus -- public transportation is for the public, for everyone. But if I had been used to driving rather than years of excellent public transportation, used by "typical" people, before moving here, I'm not sure if I would have adopted the current system, at least not automatically. I was a very easy customer, the bus is what I'm used to and what I like and what I consider normal to have, even in a city this size. I lived in a small city before the 10-minute-wait-between-buses city, and it too had a bus system (not that it should matter, but it was Ithaca, another small college town). It is not true that the T is mT. It is very rare that it is empty when I get on, and I have a very irregular schedule. I rarely ride during rush hour, and I concede that there are usually few riders besides me when I ride. On some of the routes, perhaps mine, smaller buses may make sense, but I'm told that my bus is very full when school lets out (when I don't ride). I've also been on other routes where the bus was full (they appeared to be college students; it is not my usual route). In any case the bus size is a variable that can be tweaked without killing the system and coming up with an "alternative."The 10 min wait vs 40 was to make a point with an extreme, and I realize that will never happen here. But it could be better, and more convenient, say 30 min or even 20 min. at least at certain times of the day. For most people there is a big difference between 20 min and 40 min. wait. You are right, I am new here, and I'm extremely unlikely to come back. I was a little surprised by the "quality" of posts for this article and a couple of others I looked at. Yours was one of the very few posts with thoughtful comments, which I appreciated even if you disagree with me.

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somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

OK, coneflower, I hate to but have to call BS on that comment and the thoughts behind it. The T system has a management system, the commission does not run it. This commission did not start the T system and did not fall for MV's stupid plan.Granted the City oversees it now that Gallente (?) has bailed out and run away from answering any questions, but it was not this commission that allowed this mess to begin with.I personally don't think the plan will EVER change if the money comes in. These people need to be forced to change (smaller buses, better routes) and that is through the money. Sometimes you need to clean house to make things change and this is a perfect time to do that.

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gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 9 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront (Anonymous) says: I am with the one above who wants an exact number of persons. riding the T. NOt number of rides. Crap, even a monkey would figure out that if 10 people rode it 10 times it appears that there are 100 rides. but the fact remains. there are only 10 people."They could track it if they wanted, but they don't want to because it paints the T in an unfavorable light. Instead, they say something like the "the T serves 1,200 riders a day" which is unclear at best and a lie at worst. The word "riders" is at issue. Most people consider "riders" individuals, but they make it clear when you read their statistics that they have no idea how many individual people ride the T. Thus, it can't be X number of riders per day - it can only be X number of RIDES per day. Chad is pretty careful to say rides, but T supporters routinely say riders when they can't support that number.Take an example. If you take the T to work and it requires one transfer, that one trip is counted as two rides. The return trip home is also counted as two rides. Thus, one person is counted as four rides. Doing some simple math, if 1,200 people ride the T round trip, one can assume - at best - the T provides service for 600 people. That is highly inflated, but a top end number.I do find it interesting, however, that a city that has so many studies and impact groups can't find a way to engage a statistician to do some serious numbers on the T. I'm willing to bet that they don't because they do not want the citizens to know what a miserable failure it has been.Oh yeah, Chad - roads are a poor analogy to a bus. Although they are both built for "peak" usage (which is interesting that the T can figure out peak usage without knowing how many riders they have), roads are an infrastructure improvement and a bus is definately not infrastructure.

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notjustastudent 5 years, 9 months ago

OonlyBonly- you don't have to look far to at least find people whose attitudes and votes have allowed those in power to justify their negligence, etc. They're all on these posts! You should read some of the comments they've made on other posts... hawketc.etc. actually admitted that he's been stalking T riders! Thinks there's some kind of conspiracy to "plant" riders on the buses. His best evidence is that people get off one bus and get on another! WOW! I wish I could spend my time stalking people on the buses, instead of working to make ends meet and get good grades...cause stalking people is SO much more productive...

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Edina 5 years, 9 months ago

Some of us consider public transportation to be a part of a civilized society, and promote its increased use both to support citizens who need it, and to reduce car use to benefit the environment. Supporting the T with an additional 5 cents per $100 would allow for improvements in the service so that it is more convenient for more people, thereby increasing ridership. In my previous city of residence, it was no big deal if I missed a bus because another would come in 10 min. Here the gap is 40 min, and for some routes it is longer. I can just work and leave for the next bus most of the time, or hop on my bike if the weather is good, but not everyone has this flexibility. The long waits are too inconvenient for many people to adopt the habit of getting around by bus. According to the article, more than half the people surveyed would ride the bus if it were convenient. We need to make it more convenient, not kill it off.

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Edina 5 years, 9 months ago

It isn't mostly a money issue, it is a cultural issue and a quality-of-life issue, and an issue of what we consider to be important in a civilized society. 20 cents per $100 spent is not a huge amount for almost anyone. Certainly not for the poster commenting about class envy and asking if it is a crime to be rich. The people objecting to the T are not against spending the money, they are against the idea of public support for public transportation.And I am for it. I ride the T frequently and so I see the people riding it with me, which seems not to be the case for some of the posters here (stalkers aside). The riders are not all elderly, handicapped, needy, etc. though many are, and losing the T would hurt them the most. A lot of them could drive but choose not to because they know they are not safe drivers anymore, or at least not as safe as they used to be. A lot of kids ride, many of whom are too young to drive. And at least on my route a good percent are healthy and well-off adults who simply don't want the hassle of parking, or putting yet another car on the road, especially when the weather is bad and the roads are dangerous. Many of the riders make the roads safer for everyone by riding the bus. Eliminating the T would FORCE these people to commute by car, if they are fortunate enough to be able to do so. Having the T gives people choices. In many communities, especially in the Midwest, car culture is FORCED on everyone. Ugly cities are built around car culture. In such places, even if your destination is just a few blocks away, you have to drive because it is too dangerous to get around any other way. You don't see your fellow humans walking or riding a bike outside, you only see them isolated in their cars. There is little sense of community. People don't get much exercise because not many have the discipline or desire to drive to a gym regularly, their primary option. We are fortunate to live in a lovely historic town that was not built around car culture. A walk to the bus stop is pleasant and needed exercise. Still, one of the first thing I noticed, honestly, when moving here from a city with top-notch public transportation, was that people are generally "bigger" here. I kid you not, it was a very noticeable difference.Continued in the next post (due to character limit....)

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

Since the city used federal money to buy the buses, what will happen to the buses if the system is shut down?The city will pay back 80% of the true market value. We are lucky. If the City decides to purchase new replacement buses (at about 350k each), the new buses will need to be running 100% percent of the FTA Life cycle. Some buses are 6-8 yrs, most are 12yrs. If the city quits running the buses prior to completing the "life cycle", then the city will be responsible for 80% of the remaining yrs of "life cycle" (not just fair market value)

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notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

"Certainly not for the poster commenting about class envy and asking if it is a crime to be rich."Those comments, Edina, were made in response to Windlass' usual rants (you're new to these boards, apparently, and unfamiliar with them) and not in particular about the mT. Windlass' post saying the problem is with rich people and that they should be taxed to death since we can't put them in prison where they belong is, indeed, about nothing more than class envy.But that's what too many people see this issue as - class warfare. It isn't about whether we want the poor folks to get to their doctors' appointments. It's about whether this is the only way, let alone the best way, to accomplish that. And it isn't. The mT has been a disaster, a disaster which will continue to BE a disaster if thepopulation of Lawrence says 'Here, take the money, no strings attached, we trust you to do the right thing with it.' That's why the mT is such a monumental waste now. They have had eight years to make it work. They've had plenty of time to make the changes that are needed. But even now, under the gun, they're talking about letters of understanding and looking into possibilities. Here's an idea - not only plan but make the changes the mT needs, THEN ask for the money.Your contention that if changes are made more people will ride is baseless. I don't know where you came from, but little Lawrence is never going to support the kind of public transportation system that would justify buses every ten minutes. Those who keep saying that mass transit is the wave of the future never seem to be able to grasp that the ugly old car culture is something the vast majority of people chose as their lifestyle. You want to be judgmental about that? You have that right. You don't have the right to tell other people how they have to live. And before you say that ending bus service will take away a choice so people have to live our way, you're wrong - you can have all the buses you want. Pay for them.

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grimpeur 5 years, 9 months ago

$60 per Lawrence citizen per year. That's the true cost of providing an alternative that will be needed as we withdraw support for and begin to actively discourage the current paradigm of single-occupancy vehicles traveling less than one or more than 15 miles each way every day. These drivers should already be walking, biking, or carpooling, but they drive, alone, with 4-7 empty seats in their 4,000-lb vehicles, which in the main (90% of the time, according to a recent survey (n>900)) are used to transport nothing more than 300-lb. payloads.Why? Because for 30 years, we have made it embarrassingly easy to do so.2007 KDOT budget: $1.4B2007 KDOT gas tax revenue: $350KThese freeloading lazy drivers aren't paying for themselves, either. Get off yer arse and walk, and stop complaining about the T.You can pay for the T, or you can expect an increase in the gas tax. How much?25 cents/gallon if we're serious.

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gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 9 months ago

Good to see Chad is keeping up his unrelenting pro-T avalanche of stories.

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notjustastudent 5 years, 9 months ago

"Stalking is the obsessive following, observing, or contacting of another person, or the obsessive attempt to engage in any of these activities. This includes following the person to certain places, to see where they live or what the person does"Even if you were just watching you were still stalking. And you made it pretty clear that you got off the bus and followed the people...Math lesson 1: Use only the necessary information. In this example I was only talking about taxes that would provide for the T, not other taxes, and that tax is 0.0025 cents per dollar.Math lesson 2: 0.0025 multiplied by 250,000 equals 625 (I kinda cheated and used one of those fancy things called a calculator for this one) 625 divided by 12 (because there are 12 months in the year still, right?) is about 52.0833333, or just plain 52.I used an extremely inflated number to make a point, that even if you spent money like Bill Gates, these particular taxes would add up to very little to you, but mean a lot for the T.I'd like to mention that this article is about the T in Lawrence, not about Western Kansas. I in no way am implying that I don't care about them or their situation, simply trying to stay on topic. Besides, if the taxes passed it would not affect these people because federal funding is only provided to match local funding. It's not like we're taking money away from them. Their federal taxes, our federal taxes, will NEVER make it back to us in most cases. So if these taxes do not pass, then not only will the Western Kansas Alices be in an unfortunate situation, the Lawrence ones will be too. As far as Sundays-- most churches provide carpooling options or at home ministry. Unfortunately those that provide carpool rides on Sunday mornings cannot usually provide rides during the weekdays when things like doctors offices are open. I don't count myself as a generous one, I count myself as a lucky one. I don't ride the T much anymore, and I could probably manage without it. But some people can't. I do what I can to try and help people, no matter how small a gesture it is, because it still helps somebody. I wish I could do more, like donate a bus to a small town in Western Kansas, but right now, this year, this election, I can't do more. I'm just not one to think that if something isn't 100% useful 100% of the time that it is, and will be, 100% useLESS, 100% of the time.

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OonlyBonly 5 years, 9 months ago

"That survey found 78 percent said they would support creation of a public transit system. More than half of everyone surveyed said they would ride a "convenient" bus system once per week,"And this is the dagger in the heart. The keyword being "CONVENIENT." Well regrettably the T isn't. The hub system is, IMHO, ridiculous and nothing has been done for Eight years to restructure the system to better serve the population!What we really need to do is to find a way to keep the "T" and punish all those who through negligence, irresponsible spending and ineptitude have brought it and the city to this point!

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OonlyBonly 5 years, 9 months ago

"One wild card is that the next City Commission election is in April, which means three new faces could be joining the commission."I'll wager on at least two.

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OonlyBonly 5 years, 9 months ago

"Since the city has eliminated the public transit mill levy, does that mean I'll be getting a property tax break?Not much of one. City commissioners took all but one-tenth of a mill of the 1.17 mills set aside for transit and shifted it over to the city's general fund and the bond-and-interest fund. That means that in 2009 the city will be using what was the transit mill levy to pay for general city expenses - everything from employee wages to gasoline for mowers and snow plows."And this folks is the crux of the problem! In order to fund their managerial wastes the bobble-heads have taken T funds (by transferring the T's mill levy to others areas) It's time to start finding GOOD replacement commissioners, now.

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Ragingbear 5 years, 9 months ago

I sure will be glad once everyone shuts up about it.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 9 months ago

the process of addressing changes for the fixed-route has begun. so, the poster above who says they're just gonna sit around for ten years is already proven wrong. also, the need to interact with the KU folks dictates a certain process. and, the end result is not expected to be two administrations, but one single transit district. and, those who simply want to kill the T and start from scratch claiming fiscal concerns are quite hypocritical: that plan with "starting from scratch" means a huge amount money instead of fixing what's there. as stated above, right now the system is not convenient. let's make it convenient. if you have a system serving only elderly/disabled, you don't get a lot of federal money to help. and, I too, am suspicious of the Gallante-generated concept that bigger buses last longer. we need some alternative source on that question.

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notjustastudent 5 years, 9 months ago

PS-- the article above clearly states that these taxes would be the sole funding for BOTH sytems. It isn't being twisted into an all or nothing situation by supporters, it IS an all or nothing situation already. And I'll say it one more time-- Just becuase you DONT doesnt mean you CANT. That being said I understand the T isnt efficient enough for some people, and I do think that there needs to be changes. Merging with the KU system may work, but this won't be any easier than starting from scratch or fixing the current system. It's not going to be easy, there is no magic wand. There is, as I understand, an axe. I just hope it doesn't come to that, for everyone's sake.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

Edina;I do realize that there are many who can not afford to pay the full cost of their ride on the T. And when I mentioned you were new here it wasn't intended as a put down, I just noticed you were a new message board member. Some of the posts here are a little bit full of rhetoric (on both sides of the issue), but I think you'll find that the underlying belief of the anti-tax people isn't that we don't want those who need the T to be left in the cold. We just don't think the bus system as it exists today is the answer to that problem, and have little faith that the system will get the needed improvements if the taxes pass.As I mentioned earlier, the city budget clearly states that with or without the sales tax, reserves will be funding the bus system at least until July. That means the money IS there to pay for a Plan B. It has been said that the commissioners are viewing passage of the tax as a vote of approval - if residents do not want the tax, it will be viewed as their not wanting a bus system. This is not necessarily the case, but if that's the logic they're using, wouldn't it only make sense to say if the tax does pass, they'll view it as a vote of approval for the status quo?

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