Scouring the separate schedules, routes and other resources of KU on Wheels and Lawrence’s T bus system for potential combinations and other efficiencies — and to do so by March 1 — might sound like a tough order.
But a team of consultants isn’t about to blink.
“Every indication — through our interviews — is that they have some ideas already for areas where we can improve coordination, and that a one-month timeframe is not unrealistic to expect meaningful improvements,” said Casey Toomay, the city’s interim transit administrator. “We really feel like they have the best understanding of the issues that we’re facing as we move forward toward more coordinated service.”
Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners are expected to approve hiring the team of Olsson Associates, of Overland Park, and Bourne Transit Consulting, of Ames, Iowa.
Together the two firms would earn a total of $91,880: $57,504 from the Kansas Department of Transportation, $20,000 from the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization, and $7,188 each from the city and Kansas University.
The consultants’ work would be split into two phases:
• A combined route map and schedule for KU on Wheels and the T would be due by March 1, in time to be considered by KU students deciding where to live for the coming academic year. The consultants also could forward recommendations for boosting efficiency or expanding service, including adjustments to routes.
• A second roster of recommendations, expected to be more comprehensive in scope, would be due by Jan. 15.
KU Provost Richard Lariviere already has signed off on hiring the consulting team, described by transit leaders as an “implementation specialist” because of its expertise in maximizing efficiency of transit systems.
Leading the team for Olsson would be Tom Worker-Braddock, a transportation planner who earned his master’s degree in urban planning from KU. He has attended recent open houses conducted by local transit leaders, and — having ridden both the T and KU on Wheels while attending classes on Mount Oread — knows a thing or two about both systems.
Working with Worker-Braddock would be Bob Bourne, a planner and principal of Bourne Transit. He’s worked previously with KU Parking & Transit on operational issues, and is a former director of CyRide, the combined bus system serving Ames and Iowa State University.
Transit leaders tentatively have scheduled to meet Friday with the consulting team, then return to town Feb. 9 to Feb. 13 to meet with “stakeholder groups and other people interested in providing feedback on what the future of transit should look like in Lawrence,” Toomay said.