Archive for Friday, October 17, 2008

Transit merger may take slower route

Agreement to be discussed at Tuesday City Commission meeting

The fate of the Lawrence bus system depends on a critical sales tax vote next month. But even if the T survives - a merger with KU's bus system might not be as complete as originally outlined.

October 17, 2008


A full-fledged merger of the city and Kansas University bus systems may be delayed - or less likely to happen - following a new agreement that city commissioners could approve on Tuesday.

Lawrence city commissioners at their weekly meeting are scheduled to sign an official letter of intent between KU and the city regarding both organizations' public transit systems.

But a key component of the agreement has changed since it was first presented to the public in August. The August draft stated a clear goal of a "merger" between the KU and city systems by July 2009. The new agreement now has replaced that language with a goal of "achieving seamless service" by July.

The proposed agreement still holds out the possibility of a full-merger, but also states that better coordination or consolidation of the two systems would be acceptable as well.

The difference may mean that both city and university buses would continue to run in the city, rather than buses that would be part of a single system serving both KU and the community.

City Manager David Corliss, though, said he believes the proposed agreement still accomplishes the goal of making the bus systems easier and more convenient for everyone to ride.

"I don't know that there will be much of a difference to the average rider," Corliss said of the difference between a merged system and a coordinated system.

Corliss said even if the two systems remained separate it is likely that they would operate off of a shared route map, would have the same fares, and would honor each other's transfer passes.

The main differences between a merged and a coordinated system likely would come at the administrative level. Instead of KU and the city pooling resources into one fund, it is more likely that the city and KU would keep its funding sources separate. It's also possible each organization would continue to own their own buses rather than jointly owning buses.

Governing the system also could be different. Instead of a single joint operating board, the city and university could continue to each oversee the management of their own systems.

"I would call it a coordination effort more than a merger effort from a management standpoint," Mayor Mike Dever said of what he expected.

The change in terminology comes two weeks before voters will go to the polls to decide two sales tax questions that would provide funding for the city's transit system for the next 10 years. In much of the sales tax educational material produced by the city, there's been talk of a possible "merger" between KU and the city systems, if the taxes are approved. Talk of coordinated systems has been less frequent in the city literature.

Corliss said he is not concerned that voters will go to the polls confused about what they would receive if the taxes are approved. He said the city and university already are seeing results from a new program where KU students can ride a T bus for free with a student ID, and T riders can ride a KU bus for free by showing a T bus pass.

"I don't think citizens are that concerned with whether we have to fill out two different payroll sheets or two different federal forms," Corliss said. "I think they want to know the system is going to be as efficient as possible, that we're not going to have duplicative routes, that we're not going to have a half-full KU bus and a half-full city bus running the same routes."

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


somebodynew 9 years ago

Seems to me MV Transportation has figured out that with 2 systems they would still get to double dip and be paid by 2 entities. And gee, guess what - - they City agrees with it. Surprize, surprize, surprize !!!What a complete rip-off, at least in my book.

Danimal 9 years ago

One system serves its ridership and works efficiently, the other doesn't. Why break the system that does work to make the owners of the one that doesn't feel better about their awful mass transit system? Anything that the city is allowed to put its hooks into in this town will end badly.

sjschlag 9 years ago

I think Corliss found out that the merger benefits KU more than the city...Oh well. I'm still voting yes.

gccs14r 9 years ago

Nothing like duplication of bureaucracy to increase efficiency.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: "The precise structure of the arrangement is somewhat irrelevant."Of course, everything's irrelevant to boohoozo. Like facts or logic, for instance.Um, clownie, this 'irrelevant' change means that the mT doesn't get a share of the $20/semester that KU charges the students for a transportation fee (although they'll still be transporting the students for free).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

The precise structure of the arrangement is somewhat irrelevant. What matters is reducing unnecessary redundancy, increasing efficiency and improving service.I really don't want the current commission deciding on it, anyway. They've demonstrated that they are ambivalent, at best, about public transit. Let's elect a commission in April that wants to make the best system possible.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: "One thing's for sure, nota- the current city commission may be unqualified to determine how public transit gets restructured, but at the very least, they're miles ahead of you."Ooh, nice comeback, boohoozo.From the story above, it says that "it is likely that they would operate off of a shared route map, would have the same fares, and would honor each other's transfer passes." (Pay particular attention to the word "likely," boohoozo.) They would, however, keep running two separate bus systems without combining revenues. So much for all the blathering you've been doing for weeks about how the merger would end the redundancy and inefficiency. Seems you were wrong on just about every point you've been trying to make about the mT, boohoozo. Gee, now there's a shock.

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

Why not let KU run buses, and City run Paratransit. Since Fed rules that Paratransit will be available everywhere buses go, and will operate "at least" the same hours. No, forget that...... too simple

BigPrune 9 years ago

The T must already have the votes or we're going to get bilked on our property taxes to pay for this boondoggle. The public passing this assinine bus system removes the politicians from taking the heat if they instead get to tax us through increased property taxes if the public votes the T down.Since when is government ever efficient?

Alison Roberts 9 years ago

again with the voting often BS. Vote ONCE... just vote, jeez.I will be glad when this crap is over.

doc1 9 years ago

Vote no. This is retarded. This town is not big enough for a bus system. The last 8 years of empty buses has proved this poing beyond any doubt. I'll agree with a paratransit but empty buses all the time??? What the heck is wrong with this town?

RKLOG 9 years ago

I'm voting "yes" as many times as I can.

cowboy 9 years ago

Is the city manager aware that in the November election there are funding votes that could eliminate the city transportation system? Would it not be more prudent to wait for the results of that vote?Only word that comes to mind is major incompetence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

One thing's for sure, nota-- the current city commission may be unqualified to determine how public transit gets restructured, but at the very least, they're miles ahead of you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"Ooh, nice comeback, boohoozo."Wasn't a comeback, merely an observation, nota. Somebody with clear problems with emotional stability as you so often exhibit on this forum, and who clearly wants nothing but the elimination of public transit is simply unqualified to provide any input on the best ways to restructure it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

"This town is not big enough for a bus system. The last 8 years of empty buses has proved this poing beyond any doubt."Do away with public transit, and Lawrence once again becomes the largest city in the US without it. So have the last 8 years proven what you assert, or is there some other form of retardation at work?

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