Letters to the Editor

T costs

October 22, 2008


To the editor:

After eight years of operation, two weeks before a vote about increasing the local sales tax, the city announces agreement with KU about bus systems. But wait! It's not an agreement or a merger. It's a "letter of intent" about "coordination of routes." Painfully absent in the announcement was how much the T will cost. Will coordinated routes cost less? Not!

The city eliminated all public transit funds, but they kept virtually all the money to make it appear they didn't raise property taxes. Residents will still pay the $1.25 million in property taxes; it will just go to something other than public transportation.

Next, the city proposed $3.25 million in additional sales tax for public transit. Nonresidents account for 30 percent of sales tax, so Lawrence residents will pay $2.25 million of the new tax, almost twice what they paid, and continue to pay, in property tax. Including state and federal funds, the annual public transit budget climbs from $3.5 million to $5.3 million.

At current ridership, the cost per ride will be $25 for T-Lift and $9.91 for the T. Don't be fooled by the "increase" in ridership by letting KU students ride the T for free. Actual T ridership declined by almost 16 percent in 2007 and 2008.

No planning. No information. No effort to reduce cost. A $3.25 million tax increase. Don't reward poor government performance. Vote "no" on Questions 2 and 3 and require the city to restore previous funding to pay for the T-Lift.

Bill Reynolds,


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

Half of the problems that public transit has stem from being seriously underfunded from the start, and the other half is that it has operated alongside another bus system, which created unnecessary and inefficient redundancy. That's why we have had a system that is so difficult to use for most people.Bill clearly doesn't want a bus system of any sort, and he's clearly entitled to his opinion, but don't be fooled by mathematical shenanigans, as his opposition is clearly ideological in nature.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 8 months ago

Merril, I agree that MV (the contractor) is straight up, and does a good job. That said, the "T" still sucks!Vote no to any new tax.

bb837988 9 years, 8 months ago

I have been riding the T as much as possible since September 1st. Yes, my car is more convenient and I do have to drive sometimes depending on after work obligations. But instead of filling my gas tank every two weeks, I have filled the tank two times and that includes three trips to KC.I have never ridden an empty bus. The bus has KU students, Haskell students, LHS students. There are also people who are going to work along 23rd Street and have transfered from other routes. Riding the "T" is a great option for anyone who lives on the east side of town and works along 23rd Street or on campus. My work hours are from 8 to 5. I leave the house at 7:20 and get home around 5:45 or 6:00. Depending on the bus that I take home, I have time to pick up something for dinner at Dillons before catching a bus home. And the "T" is the only option for any one who lives on the southeast side of town. KU on Wheels does not have a stop east of Lousiana except close to downtown.I hope any changes in particuliar those that incorporate changes depending on university class schedules keep in mind that not everyone who has to be on campus is a student. There is a large number of people who are there 5 days a week year round.There are many things that I pay for with my taxes that I don't approve or or use. I don't have children in school but I benefit from their education in the long run. In the same vein, if my taxes are paying for a bus system that allows children to get to school and people to get to work, I will benefit in the long run. I don't think that $.25 a day or $60 a year is too much to pay for that. I prefer that over subsidizing someone's golf game.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

Now that's some real "new" math you got goin there lawrenceguy.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

There is not an option to keep the T lift going. The whole thing goes. All of the money that has been invested,all of the vehicles and all of the positive economic impact.MV Transportation has a payroll of about $3.4 million dollars that comes back into the economy which helps support other jobs throughout the community. Part of that payroll is funded by state and federal transportation tax dollars that will otherwise go to other communities. Several other communities in western Kansas are bringing public transportation on line. Face it public transportation is the most economical way to travel. Road repair due to wear and tear is a high tax dollar item which is to say cars and roads are big budget items. Nobody rides for free necessarily. Students pay and T Riders pay. Passes allow both KU and T riders to ride either bus "line". 2001 T News - First Year of Service155,737 Fixed route ridership44,408 T Lift Ridership-2007 T News388,325 fixed route rideship57,497 T Lift ridershipThere has been impressive ridership increase since day one. The best year yet 2006 provided:421,864 Fixed route ridership55,497 T lift ridership2008 ridership is on the rise. July rideship was up 8.3% over July 2007Casey Toomay, the city's interim public transit administrator, made the ridership announcements in a news release Tuesday morning. She said the system, known as the T, made 35,349 fixed-route trips in August 2008 compared with 32,744 in August 2007.Also, 33,292 fixed-route rides were given in July 2008 compared with 30,751 in 2007.From January to August of 2008 , farebox and pass sales have gone up 45 percent over the same period in 2007, Toomay said.In a separate announcement, the city and Kansas University also received a Federal Transit Administration Award last week in Wichita for having the highest percentage increase in ridership in the Kansas Urbanized Area Transit Program for 2007. Overall in the Lawrence urbanized area - which includes the KU Park and Ride system and the T - annual ridership in 2007 went up 45 percent.In the area, 693,959 rides were given in 2007 compared with 477,000 in 2006.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

The T is 1.1% of the city budget.Who does The T Service? 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* Visitors

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

grimpeur (Anonymous) says: "The reason that these guys have this "cost per-ride schtick" going on is that they and so many of their fellow citizens would rather drive their own cars than ride or even support a transit system. Fine, but that's the expensive choice..."No, grimpie, the 'expensive' choice is to keep paying for their cars - which they both need and use - AND pay for the transit system, which they don't use and don't need. But you deliberately ignore that part of the equation.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Starting wage for all drivers is $10.17 per hour. All drivers receive the same wage.After 6 months full time employees:Health and Dental Care401KA level Mechanics receive $18.00 per hourC level Mechanics receive $12.62per hourNo one works for less than $10.00 per hour!As is obvious MV Transportation is one of the best employers in Lawrence,Kansas.Bringing federal and state tax dollars BACK TO LAWRENCE,Kansas to assist in actually paying a living wage plus benefits is excellent use of tax dollars. These wages allow people to support themselves,buy a home perhaps and in general help support the community. This makes dollars and sense.If these tax dollars did not come BACK TO LAWRENCE,Kansas Wichita,JOCO,Manhattan,Salina,Colby,Garden City,Emporia,Hays,Hutchinson or Newton would possibly have these tax dollars in their towns assisting tax paying transit employees make a decent living. Yes all of these Kansas towns either have or are bringing on public transit.Yes for Transit!

LogicMan 9 years, 8 months ago

"Vote no and require the city to keep the T? Dreaming."The "T-Lift", he wrote.Vote NO on 2 and 3 to force a redesign of the M-T to something faster and more efficient. The T-Lift can continue while the redesign is underway.

matchbox81 9 years, 8 months ago

"Don't be fooled by an increase in letting KU students riding the T for free". It's not actually "for free", T pass holders can ride the KU system also, something that students have to pay lots of money per semester to. Thinking about the fact that KUOW has higher frequency than the T, while the T goes to more geographic locations, it actually seems like a pretty good deal.

Eaglepass 9 years, 8 months ago

H*ll NO the mT MUST GO!!!!!!Shut it down and let Merrill give them a ride!!No more taxes for this poorly run, and unorganized system.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Campaign to Save the Thttp://www.lawrence.com/events/2008/sep/22/31953/The League of Women Voters of Lawrence-Douglas County is urging everyone to vote 'Yes' for the Lawrence Transit System (the "T")

Confrontation 9 years, 8 months ago

Did someone really just use the word, "not," as a sentence?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

My suggestion is for you to stick to baseball stats, lawrenceguy-- at least there complete idiots at math can do no real harm.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 8 months ago

Vote no and require the city to keep the T? Dreaming.

matchbox81 9 years, 8 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront says..."Keep those buses off the campus. There is no need to run buses constantly across the campus, when 3 at most will move the students from the fieldhouse area to GSP and Corbin."Hawk, I rarely directly confront someone on these boards, but on this point you don't know what you're talking about. A) GSP and Corbin is one of the few areas on the KU campus where the buses can turn around at a place where students want to go. B) Capacity is constantly stretched for buses going across campus. While keeping buses off of Jayhawk blvd might be a good ideal, the fact is that they are very full when they are on Jayhawk boulevard.

jafs 9 years, 8 months ago

According to David Corliss, the city manager, if the tax vote fails, the city will sell the buses, pay some expenses, and consider whether or not to operate a very reduced para-transit service for 1 year.The cost/rider decreases with ridership if each rider is paying the fare.The ecological advantages only become apparent with much greater ridership than we have now, and only if the system is redesigned.6 trips/day seems a bit high to be average.Mr. Corliss stated the average cost/ride after fare collections to be about $5 for the bus. The cost of the paratransit is higher, and the $8-9 figure is an average of the two.If the system were designed to be more efficient, with routes and schedules that allow more to use the bus, and on a grid system that eliminated the need to go downtown and transfer, I would expect that the cost/ride would decrease, both from the increased efficiency and increased ridership.Of course, if KU students get a pass from KU/Wheels and use it on the city bus, they aren't paying anything to the city for their ride.Bottom line: The only way to wind up with a better bus system is to vote for the tax, and then lobby very hard for improvements.

CNA_Resident 9 years, 8 months ago

I voted 'no' on the bus issue, primarily after reading on Saturday that the KU Student transportation board rejected a merger with the 'T' late last week. This group of irresponsible kids are not supervised by faculty or staff at KU, and have run rampant for at least the last 10 years in their decisions to run a bus system catering to urban sprawl.Their latest stunt is completely contrary to the agreement in August to MERGE their system with the city's, and was reached after they learned they would NOT control either the buses or the routes under this merger. I attended a number of the student transportation committee meetings in the early part of this decade - and I was shocked and disappointed at how many three-piece suits would attend these meetings (after wooing individual members) with requests to extend KU busing out to their new development somewhere in town.There are at least FIVE other midwest university-dominated cities similar to Lawrence, Kansas in size - all of which utilize ONE bus system - all of which are run by the city. Regardless of a tax hike, the 'T' cannot survive (let alone operate successfully) without student use of the bus system offered by the city. Why anyone thinks it's okay to run a parallel system in Lawrence, Kansas - unlike any other similar-sized college town, defies logic and explanation.: I am tired of the Pink Elephant being ignored in Lawrence public affairs, causing unbelievable impact on land use, public infrastructure, and now public transportation, with impunity and contempt for that impact. It's true- I'm advocating burning down the barn to get rid of the rats - because there doesn't appear to be any. other. way. to get rid of the attitude those young little rats up at KU have.Let THEM provide public transportation for the city.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 8 months ago

Oh and FYI, Olathe First Student bus drives went union (Teamsters) so don't think that will not happen to school and T drivers.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Working TogetherCity and KU increase transit coordinationAn 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 by showing a valid KU Card.Conversely, riders who show a valid T bus pass or transfer slip can ride the KU on Wheels .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.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.

mom_of_three 9 years, 8 months ago

There are lots of usd 497 students that ride the T to and from school, as well as non-driving teenagers who take it to the library, downtown and to school. If kids stay after school, which the school bus doesn't allow them to do, the T runs every 40 minutes and is more convenient than the school bus. Yes it needs to be reworked, but you can't rework what doesn't exist.

matchbox81 9 years, 8 months ago

CNA_Resident, the KU transit board has more faculty members involved now than ever. Starting about 2 years ago faculty started paying a bus fee so they added faculty positions to the transit board. Plus, it's now being ran out of Parking and Transit instead of the student senate offices, it definitly has more structure and more faculty oversite now that when I started at KU 3 or 4 years ago. I think the reason KU couldn't agree to a full merger is because they wouldn't be able to do certain activities, like providing parking shuttle service for athletics during games or letting the KU visitor center use the bus, if they started accepting federal dollars, which they would do if the system fully merged. That being said, there is still huge potential for route and schedule coordination between the two systems that would make it operate with much of the same benefits and effeciencies as a officially merged system. It should also be noted that the Provost and Chancellor have huge technical influence over the student senate (basically, except for student fee funding, which is a very big except, the Chancellor and provost can legally negate most anything that the student senate does). Both the Chancellor, Provost, and city leadership have pushed hard for a merged system in the past year, and this cooperation agreement is probably the closest thing they can get without KU being forced to give up some of the other activities done with the buses.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

"I voted 'no' on the bus issue, primarily after reading on Saturday that the KU Student transportation board rejected a merger with the 'T' late last week. "What are you referring to, CNA Resident? The only thing I can find regarding this is this article.http://www.kansan.com/stories/2008/oct/13/merger/From the story---"Derek Meier, Independence, Kan., sophomore, participates in the meetings as the Student Senate transportation coordinator.Meier pointed to the current ambiguity of the city system's future as cause for the University to withhold direct involvement."Most of the student senators are sitting on the sidelines until a merger plan emerges," Meier said."The details aren't known yet. I think that Student Senate forming an opinion at this point is pretty premature. There's not many details to be passing judgment on.""

grimpeur 9 years, 8 months ago

$60 per citizen per year. That's what the T costs. The reason that these guys have this "cost per-ride schtick" going on is that they and so many of their fellow citizens would rather drive their own cars than ride or even support a transit system. Fine, but that's the expensive choice, and it's going to get more expensive. But they deliberately ignore this part of the equation. Vote yes for a redesign of the T. It's needed.

sunflour 9 years, 8 months ago

lawrenceguy40, your math is backwards. The $9.91 per ride comes from dividing the total cost by the total riders. The more people who ride, the lower that cost goes!Hawk, what you forget is that the purpose of the buses is to get people to campus. Almost everyone has gotten off the bus by the time they get to GSP/Corbin, unless that is their destination, and they get on the buses again when they get back to the next stop going across campus. I challenge you to go check out how many people are waiting at McCollum around 7:40 a.m. or at Snow Hall anytime during the afternoon!

sunflour 9 years, 8 months ago

hawk, if you look at the KU schedule, it looks like the buses go down that street quite a bit. I'm so sorry you're stuck watching buses in the middle of the student ghetto!Not including Campus Express, which is the route that you seem to agree is the only one that should be going to GSP, buses go down the street about 120 times a day... (I looked at their online schedule to figure that out: www.kuonwheels.ku.edu) What I'd really like to know is where you think the buses should be turning around, if not at the north end of campus?

standuporget 9 years, 8 months ago

Didn't KU want to run this from the beginning?

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