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Letters to the Editor

Inefficient T

October 2, 2008

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To the editor:

The people who support tax increases to fund the T are trying to shape the issue as a vote either for or against public transportation, which is far from the real issue. The issue is should voters increase taxes to fund the current system. The way this system is organized and managed should be the focus of voters, especially given the current state of our economy.

The Journal-World headlined an increase in ridership over the past month, yet failed to point out that over the past eight months ridership has actually decreased by 8 percent, while the cost of gasoline has significantly increased. You don't need a statistic, merely the ability to see, to know what is wrong with the T. The buses are too big, too pollutive (other cities' buses run on natural gas), they dangerously clog traffic flow, and, most importantly, very few people are choosing to ride.

I recently rode my bike to the aquatic center and passed the T; nobody was riding it. I went another block to the aquatic center; there was another bus in front of it - one person got on and it took off. This is not an isolated incident in my experience. A women who works in my office building tried to ride the T to work. To be at work by 8 a.m. she had to get on the T by 6 a.m. Lawrence may need an effective and efficient public transportation system; however, the current system is not it.

Timothy G. Riling,
Lawrence

Comments

Eaglepass 6 years, 2 months ago

H*ll No the empT Must GO!!!What did folks do befor the T??? What ever they did they still got around , had jobs, bought things and cost the citizens and tax payers of Lawrence a great deal less!!!Say No to #2 #3

mom_of_three 6 years, 2 months ago

You are worried about raising taxes because you can't afford it, but look at some of the lower income citizens who use the T because they can't afford a private vehicle. It's their transportation, and their taxes will go up to. Look at the teenagers and others that use the bus. Just because you don't see riders doesn't mean there aren't any. And the schedule of the T's has always been an issue, since the routes are 30-40 minutes long. But my kids got used to it, don't know why adults are complaining about it. My college student uses it to get to the k-10 connector, her job, and downtown to the library. No the times aren't convenient, but we work with what we got. High school kids use it to get home, but the bus that goes East on 23rd goes by the high school at 3:10, when school lets out, so they have to wait another 40 minutes. No biggy, but the times aren't convenient. Better than the alternative, which is nothing. As pointed out before, vote yes will promise a re-design. A no will scrap it completely, and it's needed in this town, like it or not.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

I would add that the convenience of driving has been possible because of the massive subsidies that it receives, including the subsidy of cheap oil-- subsidies that are rapidly subsiding.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Voting "no" will be the end of public transit for the foreseeable future. Voting "no" will not lead to a redesign of the system-- it will be the end of the system. If you want to support public transit, don't fall for all the cliche anecdotes, misinformation and mischaracterizations parroted by Mr. Riling. It's too bad that this city commission has chosen to make this such a divisive issue rather than doing their jobs, but if you want this system redesigned, the only option available is to vote "yes" on both issues "2" and "3".If you're concerned about your taxes going up for no real purpose at all, vote against issue number "1," which looks to me to be a dedicated fund for developer welfare, even though the current list of projects has a few for east and north Lawrence just to sweeten the pot.

PapaB 6 years, 2 months ago

Speaking as someone who lived in Europe for a couple years and rode the bus all the time, I made a few observations the T could learn from:People had to work their schedule around the bus schedule, but the bus schedule became less frequent if less-used.You paid by the destination. They had a system where you state where you're going, the driver punched a code in, you slid a pre-purchased card through the reader and it printed how much was deducted and your balance remaining on the card.People had to walk and wait. Period. You get what you pay for and the alternative is a car.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"Even boozo is not foolish enough to believe that the "bus bigots" base their negative feelings towards an empty, polluting, fuel guzzling, unused perkmobile on anything resembling ideology. That is the catch phrase of the socialists who hate cars, capitalism, guns and religion."Yea, right, monkeyhawk, no ideology in there at all (sarcasm.)

Chris Ogle 6 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence doed need public transportation, but not the fixed routes like the "T". A demand response system could get folks to work within a reasonable time frame, and cost less than fixed-routes. Much less!! My vote is NO to fixed routes

Phil Minkin 6 years, 2 months ago

jafs and others ask "how did folks manage before the buses?"Why not also ask how people got along before any publicly provided service. eg. trash pick up(I'm old enought to remember paying a trash man to come by), should we go back to a volunteer fire department?, our community owned hospital etc. Just think of any government service that we take for granted because it improved the lives of the community. I have attended several Save the T meetings and there is 100% agreement that the system must be improved, but killing it because of a 25 cent/$100 tax would be extemely short sighted. Any new proposal would have huge start up costs that redesigning the current system would not.

LogicMan 6 years, 2 months ago

""The buses may sit off the road for a few months, but that's better than having them continue in this wasteful way."""Um:no. They'll have to be sold because they were bought with federal funding."Extremely unlikely. Even if an old contract requires such a sale, a call explaining the situation would yield a waiver or a delay of the requirement.

Eaglepass 6 years, 2 months ago

I disagree "just another-------"There are too many roads in Lawrence for the curent funds to keep up. There are a lot more citizens, workers and vistors that spend time and money in Lawrence and use the streets to get around, then the few and I mean few that ride the empT. How is approving 2 and 3 going to force reform of a poorly organized, polluting dumpy JOKE of a system. Passing 2 amd 3 will only fund the same joke of a system, until the next bailout request.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

JK,It's not one person.My wife and I have tried to use the bus system from 4-5 different locations in town.Each time it would have been about a 45-minute trip, when driving directly would have been a 10-15 minute one.Also, it would have involved going away from our destination to downtown, and waiting 20 minutes to transfer to another bus, and then driving (not directly) to our destination.That's incredibly inefficient, both time/resource wise.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Taking the bus will never be as convenient as driving, but the system can certainly be made much more convenient than it currently is. But inconvenient is much better than not being able to get where you need to at all."Also, how did folks manage before the buses?"Very poorly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

none2-- It's a strawman argument to assert that someone who supports the "T" must automatically oppose increased employment opportunities.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

"If other options aren't currently available, then neither should a sales tax increase be an option. A tax increase should be looked at as a last resort. In this case, it seems to have been looked at as the only option.""I agree, and supporters of the bus system who were at the city commission meetings said the same thing. The tax increase was solely the idea of the city commission."There definitely was another option. The commission could have eliminated any funding for the T. Instead, the voting public will be invited to make the decision .... much to your dismay, I'm sure.

Deja Coffin 6 years, 2 months ago

Jut curious, does Lawrence have a taxi service or other transportation service available to elderly and disabled people?

Deja Coffin 6 years, 2 months ago

Windlass, I've always said that I'm a supporter of taxes that benefit public safety employees. But I don't live in Lawrence and don't get to vote on the matter so you probably didn't want my opinion anyways. :-)

matchbox81 6 years, 2 months ago

And by the way, even in New York and L.A., private cab companies coexist with public transit. Have money and need to get somewhere fast, take a cab. Need to go to your $6/hr job to support your family and stay off of welfare, take the bus.

LogicMan 6 years, 2 months ago

"would fly to safety."Safety? Didn't help in the attack, from a second direction, in one episode?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"one plausible option: raise the price of parking tickets downtown. $2 is a laughable amount. That's why so many people don't even bother to pay those fines."Yes, there are alternatives to this sales tax, but they aren't currently available. Future commission can devise alternate methods of financing public transit, and the sales tax can be eliminated. But for now, the sales tax is the only option available, unless your real goal is to kill public transit, including paratransit."How can I look at the teenagers and others who use the bus if I can't see them ON the bus???"Perhaps because you never ride the bus?"OK, mattress and bozo, what exactly has the city administration done to earn the benefit of the doubt?"Nothing. That's why in addition to approving the tax, without which the system will be dismantled, new commissioners need to be elected come next April. They can then address the funding mechanism.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Bozo,What are the chances that the system will be redesigned?And, why not simply raise fares so that those who use the sytem can pay a greater percentage of the costs, as in other public transportation systems?Also, the city could certainly be proposing alternative methods of funding right now - why aren't they?

sjschlag 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree with earlier comments about the lack of a plan. I am currently voting for something of which I have no idea where the money will go. I think this would indeed have a better chance of passing with a re-designed system of routes and a merger plan with KU on Wheels on the table. Trouble is, Lawrence transit tried re-designing routes in the past, and it failed. The public didn't like it. It takes time to figure out the service hours and go through all of the bureaucracy to change a route and schedule so that it fits the needs of the population better- that's why we still have the same system. The KUOW plan hasn't gone through because nobody wants to make any plans or decisions until funding comes through. There will be a huge rush to make that happen, and my guess is that what we'll end up with is a system that doesn't work, designed by too many people who have no idea how a bus system works, but are looking at the dollar signs and figuring out a way to lower costs. Sounds reasonable, but will it work for both parties involved. Using bus riders would be a good place to start with re-designing the system.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Question #20.2 percent for public transportationA special sales tax for public transit operations and capital investmentLawrence TransitPublic transportation in Lawrence travels throughout the community to businesses, educational institutions and employment areas. With a dedicated funding source, the City will have the resources to merge the transit system with the University of Kansas transit system ensuring substantial continuing resources to serve both community and student needs in an integrated system.Question #30.05 percent for public transportation, expandedA special sales tax for public transit system enhancementsAdditional dedicated resources for the transit system will provide for route enhancements and vehicle and facility improvements. Examples include increased bus service frequency on busy routes and alternative fuel buses.The 0.05 percent sales tax is only effective if the 0.2 percent sales tax for transit also becomes effective. Voters can not approve only a 0.05 percent sales tax for transit purposes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"There definitely was another option. The commission could have eliminated any funding for the T."No, it wasn't an option. They wanted to maintain the fiction that they support public transit, and by making it a sales tax issue, they bought some cover for "infrastructure" tax, which is what they really want to see pass."Instead, the voting public will be invited to make the decision :. much to your dismay, I'm sure."Actually, I'm only dismayed that a tax increase has been required to save it. I believe that at least the quarter-cent tax will pass, and perhaps both measures. I think a majority of Lawrence residents see that the potential value, if not the current value, of public transit as worth the relatively small cost.

notajayhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says: "What are the chances that the system will be redesigned?"Please remember who you're talking to. boohoozo's argument on building a bus system has never consisted of anything beyond 'if we build it they will come.' I asked the clown on another thread to show us anything - anything - to support his claim that passing the tax would lead to a redesign. Gee, got no response. Go figure.I find it amusing - and not just a little bit humorous - that boohoozo is advocating for a course of action that consists of blindly giving money to the government and trusting them to do the right thing with it.****matchbox81 (Anonymous) says: "Dial-a-ride is 3-4 times more expensive per ride than a fixed route, and the federal government allows a 30 minute window for the bus to come and pick people up (" you want to be picked up at 1? We'll be there sometime between 12:45 and 1:15"). It's not condusive to people going to work or keeping appointments."As opposed to the current bus schedule, you mean?****just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: "There have been countless posts on nearly a daily basis about the very large number of people who use the "T" every day, to very good purpose."Yes, there's no shortage of hysterical dishonesty in Larryville. There have also been countless posts, boohoozo, that reflect the actual numbers, which are a little closer to the 'paltry' end of the scale than 'the very large number' end. But then, facts have never exactly been boohoozo's strong point."It's a strawman argument to assert that someone who supports the "T" must automatically oppose increased employment opportunities."Like the strawman argument that not wanting to flush millions more in taxes down the drain on a poorly planned, poorly executed, and poorly managed system must hate poor and disabled people, boohoozo?

Eric Neuteboom 6 years, 2 months ago

"A vote against is not a vote to redesign the system, it's a vote to end the system. Redesigning the system can only realistically occur with Yes votes."OK, mattress and bozo, what exactly has the city administration done to earn the benefit of the doubt? I agree it's a sadly placed vote, as I think most people would vote yes if 1) we knew the details of the proposed merger with KU on Wheels or 2) if we knew they were giving serious credence to the redesigning the route though. But I think that with the overall lack of trust in the leadership behind this vote, it's doomed to fail as a cynical public has heard enough of "trust us, we'll fix it, vote yes and then we'll get back to you"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

You brought out a whole army of strawmen for that post, none2. You paint with such a broad brush, and make so many connections between your imagined "T-supporters" and every perceived slight against yourself that there's nowhere to even start to have a discussion.

LogicMan 6 years, 2 months ago

"Lawrence may need an effective and efficient public transportation system"Vote NO on questions 2 and 3 to force a total redesign.The buses may sit off the road for a few months, but that's better than having them continue in this wasteful way.

matchbox81 6 years, 2 months ago

Having a space big enough for all of the buses from all of the routes to park at the same time would make transferring easier wait only a few minutes instead of 20 minutes. Dial-a-ride is 3-4 times more expensive per ride than a fixed route, and the federal government allows a 30 minute window for the bus to come and pick people up (" you want to be picked up at 1? We'll be there sometime between 12:45 and 1:15"). It's not condusive to people going to work or keeping appointments. Plus, most systems that offer just a dial-a-ride or taxi-vouchers end up exhausting their budget early in the year because demand exceeds supply. That's why cities like Garden City, Hutchinson, and Salina have switched over to offering fixed routes can offer more rides for cheaper.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"It is time the city got its act together and realize that they cannot spend money right or left without a valid reason."There have been countless posts on nearly a daily basis about the very large number of people who use the "T" every day, to very good purpose. You prefer to hypothesize that such people don't exist, and that it's only pure laziness that creates any demand for public transit.I'm just hoping that voter turnout is relatively high this election so that those with an ideological axe to grind can't kill public transit in this town.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

If it's really a "social service" then it should be structured differently.A public transportation system should be designed so that much of the public can use it if they want.Also, how did folks manage before the buses?

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

If the administration had a clear plan to redesign the system to be more efficient and usable, and a clear plan for the merge with KU, this would be much easier.Unfortunately, they are not offering that, just asking us to trust them on the matter.I, for one, don't trust them.And, by the way, I have called Mr. Corliss' office several times to express these thoughts and urge them to come up with a plan before the vote so that we know what we are voting for.The real problem is that voting no will remove the para-transit service as well, and that without the federal and state funds, we will have a very stripped down version of that.For those who don't know, the para-transit service serves those who really can't get around on their own. If it were separated out, I suspect most would vote yes for it on it's own. It uses more efficient vehicles, operates on a call for ride basis, and is essential for the people who use it.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

And, as an environmentalist, I am not happy with the buses either.Given the extremely low mpg - about 6 - and the inefficient routes, ridership would have to be much higher for the sytem to be environmentally sound.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"What are the chances that the system will be redesigned?"Depends on who gets elected next April."And, why not simply raise fares so that those who use the sytem can pay a greater percentage of the costs, as in other public transportation systems?"Fares have been raised recently, to $1.50. I think that's about right, given that kids, seniors, the working poor and the disabled are among its most common users."Also, the city could certainly be proposing alternative methods of funding right now - why aren't they?"I think the current commission couldn't care less whether it survives or not. This divisive vote on these sales taxes is all the effort they're willing to put into it.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

After all, the previous commission didn't see the need to design a more efficient usable system during their tenure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"That's 6 months of the current inefficient system, and there's no guarantee that voters will elect better commissioners in April, or that they will in fact redesign the system."It's better than no system, particularly for the hundreds who depend on it daily, and the thousands who need it occasionally."After all, the previous commission didn't see the need to design a more efficient usable system during their tenure."I think the previous commission was just glad that any system at all was in place (it took a major citizen campaign to make it happen, much to the chagrin of the chambocrats who want that money for corporate welfare) so they concerned themselves with other issues. Now is the time to take it to a new level, but that won't happen without citizen involvement. We probably owe a debt of gratitude to the current commission's attempt to kill it just because it's getting people involved again, as they were in getting the system established to begin with.

JKBagby 6 years, 2 months ago

I do not think we should base voting to cripple our public trans system on whether one person has to wake up a bit earlier to catch the bus in order to get to work. Nor should we pretend to know how many people are on a passing bus and worry that there are too few riders. We need public trans in Lawrence, we need a better system in KC, and Topeka as well. I firmly agree that we can only make improvements and re-shape if the system is continuously funded and in use. Fewer old cars will be re-sold in the future, a trend all of America is experiencing right now. A new generation of autos and a weakening economy with fewer jobs available means that more and more people will have to depend on public trans for their daily lives. Keep the T alive and improvements will come.

matchbox81 6 years, 2 months ago

All this talk about how ineffecient the transit system is...Unlike in bigger, congested cities, or even the KUOW route, the purpose of Lawrence Transit System is not to be as convienient as a car, rather it's to provide an alternative for people that can't drive or afford a car - really, an extension of a social service. Of course the system won't get you somewhere faster than a car, but it will get you there. The transit dept was given a set amount of money and told, "cover as much of lawrence as possible, oh and have the hub be downtown because we want to support our downtown", even though downtown doesn't have a place big enough for more than a couple of buses to park. Look at the bus map and that's exactly what happened. You can get to/from most places in Lawrence using the bus, it just takes time. You could have the system out of the Merc parking lot, and the city will probably be looking at that. The alternative is to drastically shrink/limit the routes and have buses coming more often on the smaller routes. The flip side is that fewer people will be able to walk to the bus.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

Talk about an "ideological axe to grind". Even boozo is not foolish enough to believe that the "bus bigots" base their negative feelings towards an empty, polluting, fuel guzzling, unused perkmobile on anything resembling ideology. That is the catch phrase of the socialists who hate cars, capitalism, guns and religion.Most opposed to breathing nasty air (except, of course the cigarette haters), or wasting precious resources, resent the fact that we are milked daily to support the failed Utopian dream of Lawrence's very own "Empty City in Motion." On top of that, we are faced with having to bail out deadbeats and con men who never seem have to take responsibility for their own actions. (Which reminds me of the former mayor who was instrumental in imposing this disaster on the taxpayers in the first place.)Remember that saying, "timing is everything?" Too bad those of us who already feel that we bear an unfair tax burden, who are already mad as hell, are going to be very inclined to say NO, NO, & NO.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

So, we're supposed to vote yes now, then wait and see until April?That's 6 months of the current inefficient system, and there's no guarantee that voters will elect better commissioners in April, or that they will in fact redesign the system.

matchbox81 6 years, 2 months ago

LogicMan (Anonymous) says: "The buses may sit off the road for a few months, but that's better than having them continue in this wasteful way."Um...no. They'll have to be sold because they were bought with federal funding. A vote against is not a vote to redesign the system, it's a vote to end the system. Redesigning the system can only realistically occur with Yes votes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"If other options aren't currently available, then neither should a sales tax increase be an option. A tax increase should be looked at as a last resort. In this case, it seems to have been looked at as the only option."I agree, and supporters of the bus system who were at the city commission meetings said the same thing. The tax increase was solely the idea of the city commission.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Also, it's fairly easy to look at a bus and see if it looks full or not.I imagine that the "get to work" and "get home" buses are more heavily populated, but there seem to be quite a few during the day that are not.

somebodynew 6 years, 2 months ago

Tim - great letter.Personally, having dealt with the city for a number or years, I disagree with the people who say we need to vote for this so it can change. Nothing will change in this city administration unless it is FORCED. There should be separate votes for the T and the para-transit, but that isn't available. I think if the T loses, it will come back, redesigned and better, but not if we don't force the change.I agree with another poster:Vote NOVote earlyVote oftenDo NOT trust the City to change anything unless forced to do so.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

cont"3) They would have pushed to see that the city also help funds the JO's K-10 connector to help the poor people get to better paying jobs in JO and the rest of the metro area. To keep the poor in poverty so that the argument can be maintained that so many need the T to get to work is very self serving. Give them the tools to get out of their poverty."I don't see what this has to do with the "T." Sure, the K-10 connector has been a success, and should probably get city support to expand it, but it doesn't substitute for bus service within the city. If you don't like the "T," fine, but don't drag in complete irrelevancies."Once the ridership is TRULY up and the costs are down, then come to the city asking for more money from the tax payers:"Costs are not going to come down. It's a public service that requires public financing. That's just a fact of public transit. If that fact offends you, then vote your ideology. Just don't pretend that it has anything to do with the effectiveness of the transit system."Nevertheless, you have nothing to worry about. When the election comes around in November, you can rest assured that your tax increases will ALL pass. With all the students being able to ride the T for free, you have nothing to worry about. They will come out in droves to support the T. Would you turn down the T if it were free for you? "This is a complete distortion of reality. Sure, students, for now, can ride the "T" with their student pass. But riders of the city system can also ride the University buses-- it's just the first step towards combining the systems, which is a necessity if we are to have an improved city-wide system-- something you appear to be demanding. Please make up your mind."Thus, be happy: you'll have the additional taxes that you wish for in just over a month."I'm not happy about the tax increase. That is the demand of the city commission. Please direct your complaint appropriately.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"I simply remember the posts of several of the people who are from the pro-T crowd. As to any perceived slight, there were none aimed personally at me. I'm sorry that you feel otherwise."I was commenting on your writings, not my feelings."The pro-T crowd simply doesn't care about the tax payers in this area. If they did, they would work to make the public transportation as it exists TODAY more palatable to the entire community before asking for more money from everybody. That means things like the following:"The city commission is the one who doesn't care about taxpayers, and have given voters the choice of creating a new tax, or killing it altogether. You should really address your complaints in the right direction."1) Get the word out to voluntary use of the public transportation as opposed to trying to shame people into wanting to ride it as some do on these forums."The word is fully out-- the problem is an inadequate system that doesn't encourage anyone to use it who has the option of their own car."2) They would require the city to put advertisement on the buses to help pay the bills and thus try to do something to lower the cost."What do you suggest? Should T-supporters secretly sell advertisements, and then plaster them on the buses in the middle of the night?cont.

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