Archive for Sunday, October 12, 2008

KU transit spins its wheels awaiting proposed T merger

Despite more riders, decisions rest on sales tax vote

Kansas University junior Lauren Ruiz, Lenexa, grabs hold of the overhead handles along with other KU students on a packed Park and Ride bus Wednesday. KU is considering a merger with the T system, but it will have to postpone a decision until it knows the results of the November sales tax vote that proposes an increase to fund the city's transit system.

Kansas University junior Lauren Ruiz, Lenexa, grabs hold of the overhead handles along with other KU students on a packed Park and Ride bus Wednesday. KU is considering a merger with the T system, but it will have to postpone a decision until it knows the results of the November sales tax vote that proposes an increase to fund the city's transit system.

October 12, 2008

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It's a time of change for the Kansas University bus system.

After taking on an influx of new riders this semester, the system will have to deal with additional changes pending the results of a sales tax vote in November.

A new rule allowing anyone with a KU identification card to ride the buses for free pushed overall daily ridership up from about 7,000 to between 14,000 and 15,000, said Danny Kaiser, KU assistant director of parking and transit.

The buses are much more full at peak times, and some buses on the system are beginning to run at capacity. Some changes are planned, as routes are sorted out.

Park and Ride buses, which transport students from a parking lot on West Campus near Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street, are becoming crammed during peak hours.

Kaiser said the department is considering eliminating a stop on Daisy Hill, as students who live in residence halls are hitching rides on the Park and Ride buses. That means people who need to get to the Park and Ride lots are forced to wait for a later bus. "We're not meeting the needs of our Park and Ride users," Kaiser said.

Riders of the Park and Ride system agreed.

Jared Flewelling, a Lawrence sophomore, rode the bus frequently last year, and has noticed more students piling onto the free bus and getting off near Daisy Hill residence halls. "It's very convenient," he said of the Park and Ride system. "They've realized how convenient it is, too."

Michael Keller, a Maple Hill junior riding on the same bus route, noted: "This year, all the freshmen get on and it's packed. Once it hits the dorms, it's cleared out."

The department has also seen the need to add buses during peak riding hours along the Campus Express route, which runs from Daisy Hill to Gertrude Sellards Pearson Hall, stopping at several key points along Jayhawk Boulevard.

With the ongoing changes in the system, November's sales tax vote could bring even more change. If the sales taxes pass, the Lawrence bus system and the KU on Wheels bus system would merge, creating one system for both entities.

If the tax measures were to fail, city officials have indicated the city no longer could support its own bus system.

Either result would have an impact on KU, said Donna Hultine, director of parking and transit.

If the measures fail, some students who now have free access to the Lawrence public transit system with KU ID cards would have to get to campus another way - likely by driving, Hultine said.

And more drivers means the need for more parking.

"Really, it would have to be remote parking," Hultine said - something similar to the Park and Ride system.

Also, if the measures fail, some KU students could be placed in a tight spot, Hultine said.

"I know that there are a lot of international students that really count on the city's transit system," she said. The students often don't have vehicles with them, and sometimes live in areas not served by KU buses, she said.

Hultine said the city and the university had not discussed specific changes, but she hoped to ensure any new system would appear seamless to KU riders.

Brian Hardouin, a third-year law student from Denver, is the chairman of the University Transit Commission, a board that oversees KU on Wheels. That board has begun to look at ways the two systems could co-exist.

A merged system would benefit students by providing more coverage and extended hours of service, he said.

"A lot of it's just waiting to see what happens," Hardouin said. "And we'll plan the contingencies after that."

Comments

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 8 months ago

Vote for change. Vote for hope. Vote to protect your family. Vote to EXTEND your family to include those presently benefitting from public transportation. Vote in the affirmative.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Vote for change. Vote for hope. Vote to protect your family. Vote "yes" on issues 2 and 3 to preserve and improve public transit.

workinghard 6 years, 8 months ago

I do know that they tell us to remove all unnecessary large items from our cars to reduce the weight to save gas. So it stands to reason that hauling students uses more gas, the bus would be better off transporting only paying customers. So, will we get money from KU? We should be told before the vote.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

Vote Yes for the merged system on November 4Who does use public transportation ? Those who need to accomplish daily goals such as grocery shopping,medical care,socializing,library,getting to school,employment,applying for employment etc etc.Who might that be? Our blind community Single parents Parents Senior Citizens KU Students USD 497 Students Citizens who cannot afford to own vehicles Physically Disabled* VisitorsThe T began in 2001 providing more than 155,000 rides and grew leaps and bounds each year thereafter with 2006 being the best year yet. Still 2007 provided more than 400,000 rides. No doubt 2008 will provide more than 400,000 rides.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 8 months ago

Vote for change. Vote for hope. Vote to protect your family. Vote to defeat the three tax increases on the ballot this November 4.

workinghard 6 years, 8 months ago

I still have not heard what financial benefit the T (the city) gets from letting KU students ride for free. I know their tuition includes a mandatory fee for the KU bus, do they give a portion of that fee to the city for use of the T? Otherwise it makes no sense to transport KU students for free when others must pay. Could someone please enlighten me so I can make an informed choice for my vote. Thanks.

doc1 6 years, 8 months ago

I love to see the homeless poeple get free T Bus rides to WalMart to shoplift spray paint. Our tax dollars really at work.Vote NO!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

workinghard-- users of the city bus system also get free access to KU buses in exchange. It's not an ideal arrangement, but merely a tentative first step in fully merging the two systems-- something that will only happen if the sales tax proposals pass.

password 6 years, 8 months ago

I say vote yes! without the T I will not be able to get to work without having to walk 4 miles or I'll have to call a taxi every time i need a ride - I know you well off ones even could care less. But please Vote Yes. please?

workinghard 6 years, 8 months ago

Merrill- any input from you on the merger?

labmonkey 6 years, 8 months ago

Vote for a weight and size requirement for riders' sunglasses. Unnecessary sunglass weight=unnecessary expenditure of gas.

sunflour 6 years, 8 months ago

Hawk, you have no idea what you are talking about... What makes you think KU on Wheels is in financial dire straits??? KU students are definitely in a better position than the city, as far as funding the service they have, and with no outside funds!As far as people transferring between the two systems is concerned, it is called "honoring transfers". If you have a T pass, or a transfer slip, or you pay $1, you can get on any KU bus. And in the same system, students use the same thing they use on the KU buses (their KU Card) to transfer to the city buses. The financial benefit to the T comes from the federal funding grants that the T gets if their ridership rises a certain percentage. While KU students aren't giving money directly to the T, the T will get more than $100,000 if they have enough ridership to earn the grant!

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