Archive for Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Merger details lacking as vote nears

Voters to decide sales tax issues without knowing new bus routes

The city's making plans to merge its bus system with KU's, but details on the possible merger likely won't be known before the November 4 sales tax election.

October 1, 2008


Voters won't be armed with many details about a proposed merger of the Kansas University and city bus systems when they decide a pair of key transit-related sales tax issues on Nov. 4.

In fact, there's no guarantee that such a merger will happen, even if voters approve the two sales tax questions.

City Manager David Corliss on Tuesday said that he's optimistic KU and the city can reach an agreement on creating a larger, more efficient bus system. But he said until the two sides do the hard work of creating routes for a new system, there's no certainty that an agreement can be reached.

That work won't be done by the Nov. 4 election, when voters will decide on a package of transit sales taxes totaling a quarter of a percent.

"Both KU and the city will want to take a look at the resources on the table and the routes before making a commitment to merge," Corliss said after speaking to a Chamber of Commerce crowd about the sales tax proposals.

City commissioners in June were presented with a letter of intent from KU leaders to merge the two systems by July 1, 2009. But commissioners have not signed the letter of intent, instead saying they need to work out more details.

Corliss said he now expects commissioners to sign the letter of intent in October. But that doesn't mean all the details will be worked out. Corliss said, for example, he doesn't expect to be able to present voters with a proposed route map or schedule for a new combined bus system.

Such detail could be helpful in winning over voters. Several opponents of the sales taxes have said the current system doesn't deserve support because it is too inefficient.

Corliss did tell Tuesday's chamber crowd that the city is committed to revamping the current system, with or without KU's help.

"I think the City Commission to a person believes we have to start with a blank slate when it comes to routes," Corliss said. "I do not think the current system is the best system we can operate."

Danny Kaiser, KU assistant director of parking and transit, said he's optimistic that the city and university can reach agreement. But he said the routes will be critical because the university won't move forward unless new routes are well-received by students.

Kaiser, though, said a possible merger already has cleared a key hurdle. He said KU leaders have agreed that if the proposed sales taxes are approved, they would provide the city with enough money to cover its share of expenses related to a proposed system.

"We're meeting weekly now with the city," Kaiser said. "We're getting the issues identified, and doing the research that we need to do."

The possible merger already is playing a role in the campaign to approve the two transit sales taxes. Supporters of the sales taxes often have held out the promise of a better system if the sales taxes are approved.

"We can only improve it if we first save it," said David Smith, an organizer of the Campaign to Save the T.

But sales tax opponents have said the city has a responsibility to provide more details about what a new system would look like before voters go to the polls.

"Maybe I'm just showing my age, but isn't that called buying a pig in a poke?" said Bill Reynolds, a T opponent.


Jan Brocker 9 years, 2 months ago

Let me get this straight. If the T merges with KU's bus system, and the tax payers vote "yes" on both tax increase proposals, what happens to that money? I'm pretty sure the city won't need that money once it merges. Is Corliss going to donate that money to one of his other outrageous hobbies: keeping the wet shelter open and who cares what the neighbors and downtown shopping people think?The city commission "loves" him, but his actions speak louder than words. Watch out folks; he has known about plans to merge for quite some time but didn't want us to know until it was going to be too late to take the tax proposals off the ballot.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 2 months ago

just another bozo on the emp-T,That comment underscores your fundamental misunderstanding of free market principles. When your special interest pet projects compete with private industry, everyone loses except for you and your government-handout cronies.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone honestly think it will improve with merging with KU? Maybe if your a student. Less bus routes for the working class in Lawrence, and they are the ones fighting the most for the buses, the ones who use it to get to work.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 2 months ago

just another bozo on the emp-T,Tell that to the tax-paying, job-providing cab companies in Lawrence that the emp-T has either forced out of business, kept from expanding, or made to lose money.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

"I'm pretty sure the city won't need that money once it merges."That's completely ridiculous. How would it operate without funding? Besides, those funds could only be spent on public transit, or the tax would be rescinded.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

It's a stupid question, ese. Anything humans run, whether through a government or a business, is subject to the less-than-perfect performance of those humans. But there are still some things that are better left to government, and others that are not. Public transit systems are among the things that are best left to government, even if the humans that run it do so less than perfectly.

Jonathan Kealing 9 years, 2 months ago

Jan-In order for the two systems to merge, both entities are expected to provide a continuous stream of revenue (KU coming in the form of required campus fees and the city in the form of the sales tax). There is no merger without these taxes - at least that's what the letter of intent says at this point.Jonathan KealingOnline editor

MattressMan 9 years, 2 months ago

Larry_The_Moocher (Anonymous) says: It the people that are distributing the yard signs would put as much effort into finding employment, or better employment, there would be more money in the system to support the empT.How about the people that are against the T/tax start a vote no campaign (with yard signs) rather than just post on the internet thinking that will make a difference. If you think posting on here will defeat the tax you better think again. Just by looking at all the past T/tax threads it's always the same people ranting against it. I would venture to guess that the yard signs sway voters more than the ljw comment section.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 2 months ago

If you're opposed to the Wall Street bailout, you should be opposed to the emp-T bailout.No bailout!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

Yea, the town was just crawling with taxis pre 2000, four fares to a cab.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

Actually, SRTS, your example proves that the buses don't really compete with taxis.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

This gives us plenty of reasons to vote out the current commission for failing to take care of business, but very little reason to scrap the public transit system just because of their malfeasance and incompetence.

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