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Archive for Sunday, January 18, 2009

Apartments add challenges for transit route specialists

The Exchange at Lawrence, a 324-unit apartment complex southeast of 31st Street and Ousdahl Road, plans to have lots of Kansas University students. Those students will need transportation as the city and KU work on considering bus routes near the new apartments.

The Exchange at Lawrence, a 324-unit apartment complex southeast of 31st Street and Ousdahl Road, plans to have lots of Kansas University students. Those students will need transportation as the city and KU work on considering bus routes near the new apartments.

January 18, 2009

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Apartments test transit system

Several population-shifting projects that will be studied by a new transit consultant. Enlarge video

Congratulations, Mr. Implementation Specialist.

By the end of the month, you’re likely to be on the job identifying cost-saving, efficiency-boosting and service-enhancing suggestions for bus systems serving Kansas University campus and the city of Lawrence.

And you’ll soon hear from developers of two new apartment complexes, together ready to deliver more than 1,000 potential riders for the bus systems. One builder already is working on a bus shelter.

Too bad there likely won’t be any money available to shift such a partnership into gear. “Just because you build something doesn’t mean we’ll come,” said Danny Kaiser, assistant director of KU Parking and Transit, which oversees the campus system. “It’s economically inefficient, by ourselves — KU on Wheels — to be running a route out there. …

“I would not say that it’s impossible, but I would say that it would be very challenging.”

Recommended to address such challenges will be an as-yet-undisclosed transit consulting firm, considered an implementation specialist because of its expected expertise in making existing transit systems work more efficiently.

Lawrence city commissioners will be asked to approve hiring the firm Jan. 27, as part of a contract to be financed by up to $120,000 from the Kansas Department of Transportation and up to another $12,000 each from KU and the city of Lawrence.

The consultant will be tasked with reviewing schedules, routes, operations and assets of the community’s two dominant transit systems — KU on Wheels, serving KU, and the T, serving the city as a whole — in search of opportunities for coordination.

Transit leaders want initial recommendations back by March 1, followed by a second round in time for the 2010-11 academic year. The first round of recommendations would give commissioners and KU Provost Richard Lariviere time to consider approving changes that could take effect by spring break, when many KU students start deciding where to live for the coming academic year.

And rest assured, bus service often is a major factor in such decisions.

No free rides

With all KU students already paying for bus service through mandatory student fees each semester — currently $44.90 for operations, plus $20 for bus acquisition — living on a bus route can permit students from avoiding having to pay for parking: either $110 per semester for a Yellow Zone permit on campus, or $55 per semester to use the Park & Ride shuttle.

Tim Stultz, president of Highland Construction, is busy building Remington Square, a $9 million apartment project south of Clinton Parkway and west of Crossgate Drive. The complex will offer 224 one-bedroom apartments, designed for students looking for their own private living spaces.

Two other complexes — The Legends and Aberdeen — already are in place nearby, and another complex is in the works next door.

The area is not yet served by KU on Wheels.

“It’s vital to be on the bus route,” Stultz said. “That’s to service our 224 students, plus the 680 across the street from me, and the more than 500 down the street. There’s 1,500 to 2,000 people who could be serviced by one additional route.”

And that’s only the beginning.

Fairfield Residential, a Dallas-based developer and property manager, is putting up The Exchange at Lawrence, a 324-unit complex southeast of 31st Street and Ousdahl Road. Taken together, the one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments will have room for up to 888 residents — and college students indeed are the focus, as the company’s NotTheDorm.com site attests.

Brett Mauthe, Fairfield’s project manager, said The Exchange would offer features built into the company’s other student-housing projects throughout the southeastern United States: a resort-style pool, sports courts, an athletic club and more.

“There’s going to be a bus-stop shelter that will be part of the amenities,” Mauthe said. “It’s very important.”

Whether the shelter will be used for KU on Wheels for the coming academic year remains unclear.

Hearings to come

Adding just one bus to run a normal KU on Wheels schedule for a year would mean spending an additional $80,000 to $100,000, he said. Normally new routes require two buses, to maintain stops every half hour.

“And that’s the operations cost,” Kaiser said. “That doesn’t even count the cost of the bus.”

KU on Wheels, with an annual budget of $2.671 million, has no immediate plans to add any routes for the coming year, Kaiser said, but no final decisions will be made until the implementation specialist can offer recommendations and others are given a chance to make suggestions.

Members of the public already have provided comments and suggestions to transit officials through personal and online surveys, and KU on Wheels’ Transit Commission will conduct route hearings in early March.

“KU on Wheels doesn’t have a route going out there, or planned to go out there, as of right now,” Kaiser said. “If we’re able to start coordinating routes, then maybe that picture can change. … If we’re able to identify some efficiencies that maybe free up a bus or two, perhaps it makes those decisions a little easier.”

‘There may be opportunities’

Diane Stoddard, assistant city manager, said that leaders of the T were looking forward to having the incoming implementation specialist review the system’s routes.

Lawrence residents voted in November to approve two increases in sales taxes to finance improved transit services, including enhanced coordination between the T and KU on Wheels. Leaders already have heard talk of perhaps running city buses past new population centers — including apartment complexes, such as The Exchange and Remington Square — and then connecting with KU-bound buses at a transfer point, such as the Park & Ride lot near Clinton Parkway and Iowa streets.

“Those are things we will be talking with the consultant about early on,” Stoddard said. “There may be opportunities for us to work together to be serving those areas.”

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

Developers are a very expensive budget item for taxpayers. Someday we need to realize such.Consider if residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of residentials you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential does not pay for the services they require from a municipality.“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)”http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americansIt is time legislate impact fees,excise taxes and benefit districts to cover the entire cost of all new development . Maybe a user fee for all sprawl development.Sprawl Costs Us AllHow Your Taxes Fuel Suburban SprawlSuburban sprawl has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - sprawl is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/The way the chamber led anti economic growth commissions have functioned over the past 20 years an area where they have been consistent is increasing the cost of community services to taxpayers. In essence there has been a lack of orderly growth for the past two decades. Instead of growth paying back it is producing the opposite aka increasing user fees and taxes.Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed anytime soon if ever. For it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things. There is no law that I know of stating city or county commissioners must approve construction project requests. If jobs are a concern how about rehabilitating existing streets and sidewalks instead of adding miles and miles and miles of new infrastructure maintenance to our tax bill?

Chris Ogle 5 years, 10 months ago

Wonder if Mr. Implementation needs a helper. I am very qualified. Maybe I could be his associate director of canned beverages. By the way, I am specialist at that. However, I don't know anyone that knows how to fill up those MT buses. (unless they give the buses to KU on Wheels) .

Alison Roberts 5 years, 10 months ago

There is already a bus that goes by those apts.... it shouldnt be that tough to figure it out.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 10 months ago

"living on a bus route can permit students from avoiding having to pay for parking"+++Wha?

gccs14r 5 years, 10 months ago

In a declining economy there are enough students to fill these complexes? Good luck with that. Maybe the one dude can run his own private bus service, since he's creating "resort" apartments.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 10 months ago

There is already a bus that goes by those apts….it shouldnt be that tough to figure it out.+++Yeah but the occupants will expect door to door service.After all,they paid for a resort so that means the city of Lawrence has to bend over for them.

jj024 5 years, 10 months ago

build build build. Build build build, build build build. Build, build build build build build build. The way thing are going, the school numbers will go down and the transit will shut down. So hey lets build build build more housing for a phantom market. How American. Jeez students wont even live in there. It will most likely be workers. "but at least I wont see a field full of tattered, windblown Wal-Mart plastic bags anymore." But a bunch of crap apartments is better?

Omegatron 5 years, 10 months ago

Just zone the f**kin city into five zones and be done with it.Have the Lawrence transit buses operate in four of the zones.The KU buses in the fifth zone. With transfer hubs in each zone for people wanting to go to a different part of town.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

There has been a glut of apartments in the city for a few years. The market was a glut long before this structure was on the table. Empty buildings cost local taxpayers money. Too much residential = declining property values = high user fees and/or property tax rates to make up the loss. The cost of running the city does not decrease each year so where is the money? Local property owners of course.Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed anytime soon if ever. For it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators.Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things.There is no law that I know of stating city or county commissioners must approve construction project requests. If jobs are a concern how about rehabilitating existing streets and sidewalks instead of adding miles and miles and miles of new infrastructure maintenance to our tax bill?

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 10 months ago

"Richard "I'm off my Aspergers Syndrome Meds" (Anonymous) Heckler says… There has been a glut of apartments in the city for a few years. The market was a glut long before this structure was on the table.Empty buildings cost local taxpayers money. Too much residential = declining property values = high user fees and/or property tax rates to make up the loss."Richard, please explain how an empty apartment complex increases property tax rates given that the owner of the apartment must pay property taxes regardless if the property is leased or not.Second, please explain why a developer - someone who one can safely assume is in the business of making money - would build apartments if there really is a glut of apartments in Lawrence. As a side note, please provide evidence (not anecdotal) of the glut.Lastly, given the amount of tax dollars wasted on the T, why is it that the transit system cannot be flexible enough to change routes based upon demand. I thought one of the arguments the pro-tax people (ie: you) made was that the T was facing increasing demand for services and should be funded appropriately. Now it seems you are arguing two mutually contradictory things: a) that the new apartments will be empty because of a glut, hence no demand and b) that the T cannot meet the new demand at these new developments.No doubt you won't respond specifically to my questions because you are simply a hit-and-run OCD cut-and-paster that rarely engages in any sort of meaninful discussion. You'd rather wear people down with meaningless, repetitive pastings.

Sigmund 5 years, 10 months ago

Install a cash bar and dance poles, hire strippers, rename the system "Club EmpTy" and charge a cover.

notajayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

So, if I'm getting this right, students want to live off-campus and they don't want to pay for parking, so our sales tax dollars should pay for their transportation? That about right? (Yes, I know, students pay for buses out of their fees, but they won't be paying any more for this new demand.)

1wetwilly 5 years, 10 months ago

It's unfortunate that the local banks, builders and real estate syndicate colluded with the state legislature and KU officials to prevent the building of adequate on campus dormitories during the past 30 years. Regular dormitories would have elimated the shoddy, cheaply built, fire-trap apartment complexes, rental houses and run-down neighborhoods that plague this town.

gccs14r 5 years, 10 months ago

Not to mention requiring all incoming freshmen under the age of 21 to live in the dorms would improve initial academic performance and would probably save them some money.

xtronics 5 years, 10 months ago

Are the Developers paying the real cost to the city? If not why not? Are there special assessments in place to recoup the cost to the city? If not - Why not? Sweet-heart developer deals often involve investment opportunities to friends and families of government officials - is the JW doing any research?Does this development really meet commercial building codes, or have arrangements been made to look the other way?When do we find out that the tax payers get stuck with yet more transportation costs that subsidize the developers?

Sigmund 5 years, 10 months ago

gl0ck0wn3r (Anonymous) says… "Richard?"Richard wants to maintain a shortage of properties to prop up the prices for HIS real estate investments. Anyone who doesn't realize that just hasn't paid attention. Notice how he never want to increase taxes on older homes in existing older neighborhoods even though much of that older infrastructure needs more extensive and expensive maintenance than the newer ones? There is a reason for Richards myopia, it is called greedy self interest.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 10 months ago

Of course. One of his favorite cut-and-pastes covers spending tax dollars on infrastructure in his neighborhood on projects he likes. Usually he dumps that garbage into an SLT discussion. One also gets a good sense of it in any discussion about North Lawrence - for someone who supposedly advocates for the "average person," Dick is shockingly against any sort of development or funding of North Lawrence.

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