Letters to the Editor

T tax dilemma

October 4, 2008


To the editor:

I sympathize with Grant Goodman's Sept. 27 letter against the transit sales taxes. It is unfortunate this proposed funding for the T is a regressive tax. It's also unfortunate the City Commission declined to continue the T's mill-levy funding.

A number of people tried to prevent events from turning out that way. Those of us who are now endorsing the two sales taxes to keep public transit alive in Lawrence had this debate among ourselves and with our own consciences. Many of us decided, however, that most of those same persons who would be unfairly burdened by a sales tax, would suffer even greater harm if the T disappeared. In a mobile and spread-out society such as ours, lack of transportation is a major handicap to almost all aspects of people's lives. Try handing your car keys to a friend and asking them to swear they won't return them for a week, no matter how insistently you demand it.

The City Commission made a major mistake in cutting the T out of its 2009 budget, but I don't want to punish the innocent who will be hurt most by that failing. Since the commissioners now seem willing to take steps to fix that error, I feel I must support that effort.

I don't want to belittle Mr. Goodman's opinion or that of others who share it. I simply wanted to offer the perspective of someone who has struggled with this moral conflict himself, and come to a different conclusion.

Dennis D. Constance,


Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes for Transit 2&3!The League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County is urging everyone to vote 'Yes' for the Lawrence Transit System (the "T"), and will hold a forum on public transit in LawrenceForum on Public Transit the "T"7:00 9:00 PMWednesday, October 8thPlymouth Congregational ChurchOther:Campaign to Save the Thttp://www.lawrence.com/events/2008/sep/22/31953/

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

The T also draws federal and state public transportation tax dollars back to Lawrence,Kansas which helps providedecent paying jobs to Lawrence,Kansas. This is money that would otherwise benefit other economies ....so why not have those federal and state tax dollars in the Lawrence economy? I say bring it on!The T is rated as the 23rd largest Lawrence employer in which no one works for less than $10.00 per hour plus have access to 401k and medical benefits. Lawrence cannot afford to lose this employer. This is excellent use of tax dollars.===================================City and KU increase transit coordination to provide even more service to this fine community. Teamwork is good!An agreement between the city and the university now allows easier access to both bus systems. KU students, faculty and staff can ride the T fixed-route service free by showing a valid KU Card.Conversely, riders who show a valid T bus pass or transfer slip can also ride the KU on Wheels buses.Services excluded from the agreement are T Lift, JayLift, SafeBus, and SafeRide.Starting Oct. 1, KU students, faculty and staff need to show the new KU Card to ride T buses free.Day pass available for the TMaking multiple trips in a single day? Give the day pass a try. The pass is the only one that is purchased directly from the bus driver. Once it's punched, you can use the pass for unlimited rides on that day. Full fare day passes are $2.75, and reduced fare passes are $1.35 with valid identification.

matchbox81 9 years, 5 months ago

xbusguy (Anonymous) says:"I would support a demand response system which would be more cost effective, but will no longer support the "T" ."If the demand response system provided service for all of the current riders, the total cost would be much higher than the current total transit system is now. A city with a demand-response system that uses federal dollars cannot restrict ridership (i.e., cannot say it's only for the disabled). These reasons are why cities such as Salina and Hutchinson have transitioned from a demand-response to a fixed-route system. Even if the city does somehow make the effort to restart a transit system later, they'll have to get in the back of a long line of communities that are requesting state and federal money from transit. The state and federal DOT aren't going to reserve the current funds simply because Lawrence "might want another transit system". Against public transit? Vote no. Support public transit? Vote yes on 2 and 3 and pressure for a redesigned system. Public/elected officials are already feeling that pressure. However, do not delude yourself into thinking that voting no will force a redesign. State and Federal officials will just see a "no vote" as a sign that the Lawrence public does not want a public transit system.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 5 months ago

Dennis D. Constance, Thanks for taking the time to voice your opinion concerning the T. I agree that a sales tax is very much a regressive tax. However, the reason I will be voting NO is because of the 91% subsidy to operate the fixed route transit system. I would support a demand response system which would be more cost effective, but will no longer support the "T" .My vote is NO

notajayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

"However, do not delude yourself into thinking that voting no will force a redesign."And how deluded is it to believe that giving them the money they ask for without any changes even talked about will force a redesign?A vote 'yes' is a vote for the status quo, which is untenable. A vote 'no' may indeed force a temporary shutdown, but it will also force a redesign before the system is started up again.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

My conscience tells me it is immoral to force an entire city to pay to assuage the guilt of a few.I suggest the T supporters who feel guilty because they have cars when others do not set up a volunteer car pool for their less privileged comrades who need to get to the doctor and to work.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Remember in addition and federal and state transportation tax dollars finding their way back home into our local economy so will that one quarter of a cent sales tax dollar which in essence helps keep others employed.

matchbox81 9 years, 5 months ago

Notajayhawk,Every LJWorld Article that talks to city or KU officials, whether it be the city manager, a commissioner, or a vice-provost, has them all saying that a system redesign needs to be addressed. And it might "just" be a temporary shutdown, if you count 5 years as temporary, which is not unusual in the FTA process to get a system up and running.

Phil Minkin 9 years, 5 months ago

25 cents for every $100 spent. So little to provide transportation to those who need it. Independence Inc. will not be able to provide transportation to all those who now use use paratransit, which will be eliminated if #2&3 aren't passed, let alone the other riders who need transportation.In answer to the "What did they do before?" question often asked, the answer in many cases is-without. Without medical care, appointments, shopping etc. There are any number of things that we have now that we got along without previously, but that isn't reason enough to eliminate them. It's called progress.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

Both question 2& 3 must pass or there will be no public transportation in Lawrence,Kansas.The system will utilize federal, state and local tax dollars.Question 20.2 percent for public transportationA special sales tax for public transit operations and capital investmentLawrence Transit Public 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.Launched in 2000, the Lawrence Transit System provides fixed route and paratransit services (for individuals with disabilities) throughout the community.The system will utilize federal, state and local tax dollars.Both question 2& 3 must pass or there will be no public transportation in Lawrence,Kansas.

LogicMan 9 years, 5 months ago

"Both question 2& 3 must pass or there will be no public transportation in Lawrence,Kansas."Maybe briefly, if the City Manager doesn't find some short-term funds especially for the para-T. If voted down, it is easy to come back quickly with a plan for a better, smaller, faster, cost-effective, and more efficient T. The school board has proven recently that special elections for tax increases can be successful.Vote NO on questions 2 and 3 to force this redesign.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 5 months ago

Vote No, Vote No, Vote No. It simply does not have the ridership to even get close to break even. I will not change my mind vote no.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

This is actually a non-issue. The Feds just spent all the T money to save the Endowment Association and KPERS from their bad investment choices, along with the investment choices of the wealthiest families and governments in the world; once their investments are safe, there will be nothing left to bailout earmarks for public transit in Lawrence, Kansas. Without the Federal pork, there will be no empT. Nada. DADA rules. Happy now, Boog?

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 5 months ago

Fortunately, I live in the county. I would assume that a lot of the money for the expensive buses came from either the Feds, or state grants. The city probably paid a small share. Therefore the city should fund the bus system, not ask citizens to vote for tax increases to do so. Why is there not just one tax increase question on the city ballot for this purpose? I would also think that whatever governmental entity paid for the majority of those buses, would require that the bus service stay in business for at least the life of the buses, and that it would be up to the city to do that without putting special tax increases on the ballot. Your city is so screwed up. Thank you, Lynn

Richard Heckler 9 years, 5 months ago

2001, the first year of service provided 155,737 one-way trips on the T fixed route service and 44,408 one-way trips on the T Lift ADA complementary paratransit service.Numbers increased dramatically each year thereafter with the exception of 2007. Even with that one and only slow year it still provided way more than double the numbers of 2001.....still not too bad.2006 was a very good year. The T provided 421,864 one-way trips, and the T Lift provided 55,176 one-way trips. Highlights of 2006 included launching Carpool Connection, helping the University of Kansas start its Park & Ride system, improving passenger amenities by adding trash bins and route map decals in the shelters, and partnering with the University for the Coordinated Public Transportation Development Plan.In 2007 planning for the future was a theme for 2007, with participation in the T2030 Long Range Transportation Plan for Lawrence-Douglas County, an Intelligent Transportation System architecture for Lawrence-Douglas County, and the state's Long Range Transportation Plan. Revised service and fare policies help the transit system better manage the rising demand and cost for service. The T provided 388,325 one-way trips, and the T Lift provided 57,497 one-way trips for a combined total of 445,822 rides. Still not too shabby.Most all involved recognize some changes need to occur to become even more user friendly especially during the busiest hours. For Lawrence not to provide public transportation to all of the above who need this service would be taking a step backwards.One snowy day we decided to walk downtown to do some shopping,get a bite and in general socialize. On the way back our youngest was just too tired to walk home.....Thank you T for being there. The bus ride was the highlight of the day for our young child. The T was also a great resource when our youngest and I went to get our bikes from the Sunflower bike tune up shop not so long ago. Then there are those who ride it frequently to get to work which is quite important to those who want to be employed instead of sitting home. Lots of senior citizens are forced to give up driving yet are not necessarily handicapped but enjoy having some freedom to get around to shop, visit and make medical appointments.

notajayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

matchbox81 (Anonymous) says: "Every LJWorld Article that talks to city or KU officials, whether it be the city manager, a commissioner, or a vice-provost, has them all saying that a system redesign needs to be addressed."No duh? Really? Every single poster to these forums has said "redesign needs to be addressed." Nobody, however, has said when, how, or even if they're going to do so."And it might "just" be a temporary shutdown, if you count 5 years as temporary, which is not unusual in the FTA process to get a system up and running."That might even be sufficient time for them to figure out how to do it right. The eight years the empT has been operating sure hasn't given them a clue.

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