Archive for Saturday, January 24, 2009

City, KU ready to hire transit consultants

Lawrence and KU officials are turning to an experienced team in trying to coordinate transit systems.

January 24, 2009


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.


Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

What, just two consulting firms??? Maybe one for the city, and one for KU..... I think we need one for the taxpayers.... nope, second thought, paying for two is enough.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 3 months ago

Combining the two systems and determining all the routes and schedules will require a certain amount of common sense, but it will also be a very complicated and time-consuming process requiring the full-time attention of several people with backgrounds in solving such problems.Are there any people on staff at the city and/or at KU who have these skills and can devote all of their attention to it over the next month or so? Apparently not. Is $100,000 too much to pay for this work? I don't have enough info or expertise to say one way or the other. Does anyone else commenting here?What I will say is that I hope the $100,000 fee will pay for follow-up monitoring and tweaking of the system over the next year or two.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 3 months ago

At least one is familiar with Lawrence and has used both systems. Hopefully a previous study will be of some value as well. Ames,Iowa I believe has a successful system and is a college town. Perhaps this consultant can bring situations that have been solved over the years thereby eliminating some wasted time and dollars. Our city is asking for a speedy study to meet expected demands. What this system does need is a larger maintenance buildingin order to keep vehicles on the road in a timely fashion.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

"hopefully a previous study will be of some value as well."_______Lawrence has a bunch of previous studies.. It would be interesting to read them. Wonder what has changed in the last 10-15 years.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 3 months ago

I just want to be the assistant auditor. I could work every other Thursday from 1-3. and still keep up with him.

spankyandcranky 9 years, 3 months ago

Wow -- this article definitely does NOT make it clear to me, when we're experiencing so many cut backs in government funding, why it's necessary to spend $91,880 to basically consolidate or improve current routes. Am I missing something? How complicated could it be? It's not like Lawrence is a large city ... Furthermore, couldn't some of this money been better spent on the 'hospital programs' that the governor decided weren't necessary the other day. Are the bus routes so disfunctional that they outweigh the importance of health and education for the disabled? I'm VERY furious -- this seems really wrong.

sunflour 9 years, 3 months ago

There is a big difference between using common sense to know where routes should go, and having the expertise to actually know how to make a route efficient, and what the timing of the buses are. I'd be willing to bet that there will be people at KU and the city spending almost as much time on this project as the consultants.

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