Archive for Saturday, September 13, 2008

T needed

September 13, 2008

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To the editor:

When we moved here almost two years ago, one of the issues that concerned us was whether Lawrence had a public transit system. Besides being important for retirees like us, the transit system is vital for the handicapped, those who cannot afford a vehicle, and those who do not want to drive in bad weather to commute, shop and to travel to their health-related appointments.

An article in the Journal-World on Sept. 4 said that the taxpayers are paying 93 percent of the T's budget. Fares pay 8.6 percent and another 55.5 percent of the T's annual budget comes from federal and state funds that have already been allocated, leaving 36 percent of the T's budget to come from our property taxes.

Topeka, Wichita, Emporia, Hutchinson and Johnson County already have bus systems. Cities in Kansas that are considering mass transit are Manhattan, Salina, Hays, Pittsburg, Garden City and Colby.

Please vote for the sales tax, questions 2 and 3, because the T will no longer be supported by a property tax. The 0.25 percent sales tax would amount to only 25 cents for every $100 spent.

Dave and Carol Kyner,
Lawrence

Comments

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 8 months ago

I would not vote for anything that raises my taxes one penny. We are taxed to death as it is. If your bus system can't make enough money to run itself, don't look at citizens in the middle of a recession, to pay for it. Thank you, Lynn

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 8 months ago

Vote NO for the socialist utopia delusion of government care for all.

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

"each ride on the para is far more expensive than each ride on the fixed-route."Per ride, yes. However, the people riding the paratransit vans need it, and very few people are screaming to leave them stranded. As for the rest who choose to ride the bus, is there some reason the taxpayers should be paying 93% of the $8 or so cost?

bearded_gnome 9 years, 8 months ago

my God, is this malfunction-junction?okay start with correct info:taxis haven't cost $5 one way one passenger for a very very long time unless you were one rider going on a "short run" of a few blocks on Zippy taxi. more like $8 (zippy) $10 (ground transportation). yes, $10, that's twice Hawk's figure. for the upcoming budget year, 0 (zero) dollars are allocated from property tax. that means the city persists in swallowing the "transit levy" into the general budget, which started a few years ago. I think the LTE might not quite have the right figures but the proportions are pretty close. 6.6% comes from the box collecting on the buses. And, Hawk, you beef about the cost of the T. each ride on the para is far more expensive than each ride on the fixed-route. the aplication is unfortunately necessary both to document for funders the disabled population and to screen out people who don't need the paratransit. your elderly friend is driving? then the para isn't designed for her! now, though, you better check and see if she's one of those older drivers on the road who really is dangerous because of age! *now, you guys who say "keep the paratransit going" I got some bad news for ya' too! it sounds great to say that, to make yourself feel better or look better to others. the stark reality is: if there is no fixed-route system operating, much of the federal funds to operate the paratransit go away. and worse, the city has to sell off buses purchased with federal money at that point, including those operating on the para! Andy is 100% right, the para uses big heavy lift equipped buses, often just to transport one or two people on the para runs. When Cliph Gallon-tea was challenged on this his answer was he needed to keep those buses for flexibility of para and fixed-route since they were capable of handling both, as well as wheelchair users' para rides; he also said federal money strings force him to use those big buses, that to shift many of the para runs to say four-door cars would lose some federal funds. I personally think Cliph's first reason, flexibility, is fake and would be more than made up for by the obvious savings. his second reason seems correct and again the feds are requiring smaller systems like ours to operate less efficiently. so, vote no on question #2, and the fixed-route system stops, only $580,000 is left in a "transit reserve fund" to operate a really minimal paratransit system, with almost no federal funds available for it! hope this clarifies some things.

canyon_wren 9 years, 8 months ago

Thanks, Andrew. You raised important questions. People seem to only consider any tax issues in terms of their own needs and no one else's. We have become such a self-centered society. There has to be a better way to fund something as important as the T.

Steve Clark 9 years, 8 months ago

Gee, I wonder why they didn't put the Million Dollars for economic development up for a vote? I mean really, that money is so much more effective than the T money, right?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 8 months ago

Vote no for the T I agree, free transportation is not a constitutional right. But there should be a para-transit service for those that NEED it! But it is highly unlikely that this group of "commissioners" will ever hear and understand that. The city manager does't want that, and when the city manager and his minions speak, the commissioners squat and strain. There will never be any sensible public transportation in Lawrence as long as people vote for the dunderhead candidates who can buy the most yard signs and who don't give a damn about doing their jobs for the citizens, not the city manager.

LogicMan 9 years, 8 months ago

"Vote YES for the essential lifeline to the elderly and disabled!"If you could, but the vote is for the whole T, and not just the paratransit service.Vote NO to force the planners to come back with the Para-T and possibly a much smaller, more logical general T. Otherwise, you are just funding welfare for the M-T's bus drivers and the fuel companies.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 8 months ago

Nota,thanks for identifying my vage ref. yes, it costs the rider $2 per ride, that is more than on the fixed-route. what I meant was the total cost and was specifically answering hawk's comments about the para. per ride, the total cost and the rider's cost are much higher on the para the way it is operated right now. there is an effort to change some of the FTA regs that I referred to which are forcing smaller systems like ours to run inefficiently. Lawrence is actually not the only system facing these kinds of troubles. yes, there have been bad choices made, and the fixed route has to be fixed (excuse the pun) because it really should attract more riders; now, the fixed-route system actually discourages riders.***Lynn, no bus system in america pays for itself. there are federal, state, county, district, school, private business, moneys that make the systems go. and, for many of the fed and state moneys, to get that money, there has to be local money first.

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

couranna1 (Anonymous) says: "You think you have high taxes here go to King County partner People are willing to pay for a quality of life you can only fathom"You may not have noticed this, but the people in the greater Seattle area have chosen a lifestyle somewhat different in many ways than the people in Kansas. I'm happy for you that you've found what you consider a 'quality of life' that suits you. What you don't seem able to 'fathom' is that not everyone shares your concept of 'quality.'

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

Looks to me that your link covers only railway systems, not bus systems, newell.I think it's possible to get a much higher percentage of operating expenditures through fares, but that will only happen when the system is upgraded to attract more ridership. A half-assed system will almost always have half-assed ridership.

Tom McCune 9 years, 8 months ago

Vote no on every tax increase at every level of government. The government doesn't have a revenue problem. It has a distribution problem, a management problem, and a priorities problem. The government has plenty of money to carry out its constitutionally authorized functions and it should stay out of everything else in the interests of preserving individual liberties.

Warren6032 9 years, 8 months ago

I'm goona vote "YES". I never rode the T. Maybe never will. But I'm not self-severing enough not to realize that other people really, really need this service. I golf, and love Eagle Bend, but I would rather lose The Bend, and keep the T.

XEPCT 9 years, 8 months ago

Vote YES. Contrary to what many here may perceive, the number of people who ride the T will only continue to rise and it will not decrease. In talking to people about the T, it seems that some people hold some kind of social stigma against taking a bus to get to the places they need to go. There is the sense that buses are for school children and college students, while the populace uses their cars, which is fine. But, remember that most Lawrencians hold Lawrence to a higher standard than other places, especially compared to our immediate vicinity, and having a clean efficient public bus system is quite forward thinking, as well as, impressive to others for a city of our size in the middle of America. Now, several will criticize my last sentence with 'blahblahblah monetarily it isn't worth it,' but have the naysayers actually rode on the T? I ask only to take the old saying "don't knock it until you've tried it" to heart for a moment in appreciation for the great things we all can agree that Lawrence gives us. My suggestion is for people who have their doubts to give the T a try for one trip downtown: $2 (roundtrip), and go to their favorite eatery one Saturday afternoon, or perhaps instead of having your spouse drive their car to pick you up, the next time you are having some maintenance done on your car take the T home and then ask yourself if you wasted your dollar or if the T is as much of a bane on society as can be claimed in these forums. If you still feel the same way, by all means vote no, at least you gave it a shot, a "no thank you bite," if I may. But, if you're vehemently opposing something you've never experienced it is akin to teetotalers campaigning to eliminate alcohol. The T would pay for itself if enough people used it, correct? If the citizens of Lawrence familiarize themselves with the T and are comfortable with using it, even if they never need to, I think we would see a sizeable increase in patronage and the fears of highway robbery in the form of taxes would be allayed. Yes, I ride the T and would like to continue doing so. I will be voting yes and most if not all of my friends and family (some of whom were at one time forthright about their dislike for the T as taxpayers) will also be voting yes, because they have a tangible relationship with someone they care about (me) who utilizes and benefits from the T.

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

couranna1 (Anonymous) says: "Granted many smaller cities are part of a regional bus system but they still pay their part of the bill..."As you pointed out yourself - Federal Way's buses are part of the King County Metro system, which grew out of the Seattle bus system (Federal Way is in between Seattle and Tacoma). When Kansas City and Topeka combine their bus system into one and offer to include Lawrence, let us know.

Tom McCune 9 years, 8 months ago

I think the attached is interesting. If accurate, it lists the percentage of operating expenses covered by fares for major mass transit systems. The ones I am the most familiar with are in the San Francisco area. (BART and CalTrain.) Even in that bastion of socialism, the systems cover over 50% of their costs from fares. I am not an expert in the finances of the T, but I have seen it said that the T covers less than 10% of its Opex from fares. None of the major systems listed is anywhere near as low as 10%.If my understanding of the 10% farebox ratio for the T is incorrect, I would like to see an audited, verifiable number for same.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Again assuming the pipedream that if we build it, they will come. Spend money expanding a system that nobody is using now and we'll just hope that gets more people to use it. Brilliant as always, boohoozo. You do seem to be the expert on half-assed concepts, though.

BigPrune 9 years, 8 months ago

The cost / benefit analysis is in, drum roll please......the T is a loser. Please vote NO on any sales tax increase. Send a message to City Hall that THEY need to cut their own fat first. If this passes it's no wonder the City's going broke.

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