By August, public transit riders in the city may see the first signs of Kansas University and the city combining their bus systems.
A consulting team hired by the city and KU said Tuesday that a new combined route running through downtown, the KU campus and into the South Iowa Street shopping district could be up and running by the next KU school year.
“It could allow our ridership on the city transit system to essentially double,” said Mayor Mike Dever. “That could really help us with the federal dollars we receive for the system.”
The new route would replace the city’s route No. 8, which served KU, and KU’s route No. 24, running from 31st and Iowa to campus, and No. 25, serving downtown to campus.
City riders would see a higher frequency of buses serving campus, as buses that ran every 80 minutes along the old route would run every 30 minutes, said Casey Toomay, interim transit coordinator for the city.
Toomay said one of the biggest complaints the city had was from KU workers who faced long waits along the old route during the summer, when KU buses didn’t operate.
Although the new route is a combination of city and university routes, the new route would be considered part of the city’s transit system. That’s important, Dever said, because the city receives annual federal grant money that is based, in part, on the amount of riders the city system serves. The city system currently provides about 390,000 rides a year.
Any changes are still tentative, and public meetings on the proposals will be conducted throughout March. Other routes would also be modified slightly, and a new combined map for the two systems would also be created.
Feedback on the new routes will be gathered from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. March 11 in the Relays Room at the Burge Union; from 4:10 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. March 24 at the Lawrence Public Library auditorium; and at 6:35 p.m. March 31 in the City Commission Room at City Hall. Final decisions on these initial recommendations would be made in late March, and implemented by the fall. Additional, more significant, changes are likely to occur in 2010, said Danny Kaiser, assistant director of parking and transit at KU.
For a detailed look at the new proposals, including a map, visit getonthebuslawrence.org.