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Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2009

T ridership way up with launch of coordinated bus route with KU

37% increase attributed to combined route between city, university

September 10, 2009

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KU students boost 'T' ridership

The Lawrence Transit System reported a 37 percent spike in 'T' ridership this August. Enlarge video

The launch of a new coordinated bus route serving the city of Lawrence and Kansas University helped boost the T’s ridership in August, officials said.

A total of 48,313 riders took the Lawrence Transit System’s fixed-route buses last month, up 37 percent from 35,349 in August 2008, said Bob Nugent, the city’s transit administrator. The total had been 32,744 a year earlier.

Nugent attributed the latest increase to KU students riding the joint Route 11, which runs from South Iowa Street to downtown Lawrence through the KU campus. The route stops at three major apartment complexes: The Reserve, on 31st Street; The Exchange, at 31st and Ousdahl Road; and Campus Court at Naismith, at 24th Street and Naismith Drive.

Route 11, considered a “spine” for the two bus systems, started Aug. 17 — just before the opening of KU’s fall semester — and has exceeded expectations ever since.

“With the success of this route, we look forward to exploring other ways for the city and university to continue coordinating services,” Nugent said. “It appears that Route 11 has accommodated the needs of both KU students and city riders.”

One-way rides on the bus cost $1, or are free with a valid KUID.

Because students do not pay fares to ride the bus, Nugent said, city officials do not expect to see additional revenue generated by the coordinated route.

Instead, he said, both the T and KU on Wheels are working to provide the most efficient and convenient service possible with a minimum of resources.

“At this point, it’s about making sure we’re using resources as efficiently as we can,” Nugent said. “We have a better quality product with about the same amount of money.”

Comments

funkdog1 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't remember that the city "refused" to merge the two operations. I remember that in order to secure federal funds to start the T, it had to be its own city bus service and not affiliated with the university. Does anybody know for sure?

govenorteacup 5 years, 3 months ago

Why doesn't KU give some $$$ to the T from the student fees that come with tuition? I assumed that this is how the merge would work...is that not so? An increased bus fee of 10-25$ per student would do the job.

govenorteacup 5 years, 3 months ago

Funkdog.... Perhaps your statement about the city bus service not being legally affiliated with KU is why KU doesn't give money to the T....?

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 3 months ago

lolz. More usage, less revenue. That makes sense. Yay.

sunflour 5 years, 3 months ago

govenorteacup, the new route is using resources from all three of the previous routes that covered the same ground (T 8, KU 24 and 25), and is funded by both entities. There are a lot of federal guidelines that limit how much of the money can be put in the same pot, based on how the T and KU fund and use their vehicles.

govenorteacup 5 years, 3 months ago

But if KU students can ride any T-bus, shouldn't KU have to give more money to the T? I haven't read the fed. guidelines, but it seems to me that KU ought to use our fees to contribute more to the system.
All well, it gets me to campus and back to home.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

The 11 stops right in front of where I live and takes me to Walmart. Perfect.

sunflour 5 years, 3 months ago

govenorteacup, KU students already fund the T as much as any person in Lawrence, since they pay as much sales tax as any regular citizen when they go shopping in town, AND they pay a fee to fund KU on Wheels -- so they're paying more for the T than the average guy on the street.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 3 months ago

The emp-T is still a bankrupt embarrassment to the city. Hopefully the 70% of Lawrencians who who voted themselves two tax increases last fall are becoming cognizant of just how much they're paying and just how little they're getting.

Bruce Bertsch 5 years, 3 months ago

STRS - If you don't use it, how do you know what they are or are not getting?

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

sunflour (Anonymous) says…

"govenorteacup, KU students already fund the T as much as any person in Lawrence, since they pay as much sales tax as any regular citizen when they go shopping in town, AND they pay a fee to fund KU on Wheels — so they're paying more for the T than the average guy on the street. "

Patently untrue. The 'average guy on the street' pays the $1 fee plus the sales tax. The KU students pay the sales tax only - the $25 goes to KU, not to the mT. Even if they did give some of it to the mT, the 'average guy on the street' doesn't get to pay a flat fee and ride as much as they want. And they don't get to ride the KU buses for free, which is what the $25 the KU students pay goes towards.

Any way you want to spin this, the brilliant people that operate the mT and that suckered all of you into voluntarily increasing your taxes have made another brilliant move - increasing ridership by making it free to the new riders while charging you for doing so.

BTW, I thought the tugging-at-the-heartstrings crowd, sobbing about how much the mT was too valuable to die, claimed it was needed so poor elderly folk and such could get to work and their doctors' appointments, not give free rides to college students?

BigPrune 5 years, 3 months ago

The free T rides for KU students was how the City bought the KU students' vote so the KU students would pass the freaking sales taxes, even though they are temporary residents at best.

RogueThrill 5 years, 3 months ago

The emp-T is still a bankrupt embarrassment to the city. Hopefully the 70% of Lawrencians who who voted themselves two tax increases last fall are becoming cognizant of just how much they're paying and just how little they're getting

=============================

Nope, I would vote myself another tax increase to keep it.

cowboy 5 years, 3 months ago

I realize that the T's operating goals are as follows:

  1. Have no apparent operational goals
  2. Have no budget accountability , just give everything away
  3. Don't change anything even though it's a complete financial disaster.
  4. Celebrate your complete incompetence by publicizing gains in losing money and burning up your equipment at an even faster pace than before.
  5. Make absolutely no effort to lower your cost burden on this community.
  6. Tommorrows friday , party on , cuz no one in city staff or commission gives a sh!t either.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 3 months ago

I'd do the math again, but it doesn't really matter. Those that like the T - even if they don't use it - would pay any amount for it because they like the idea of a public transport system regardless of how ineffective or inefficient it is. No amount of cost/benefit analysis will sway them.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 3 months ago

TOLD you linking the city bus to Students would make a diff !.

parrothead8 5 years, 3 months ago

The 48,313 people who rode the bus last month means that 48,313 car trips weren't taken. That's less pollution in Lawrence's air and less congestion on Lawrence's streets. Nice.

notajayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

was_freashpowder2 (Alexander Neighbors) says…

"TOLD you linking the city bus to Students would make a diff !."

Yes, it made a difference.

It added to the operating expenses of the mT without increasing revenues. And you're celebrating that?


parrothead8 (Anonymous) says…

"The 48,313 people who rode the bus last month means that 48,313 car trips weren't taken. That's less pollution in Lawrence's air and less congestion on Lawrence's streets. Nice."

You're basing that on faulty assumptions. You're assuming that:

1) Every one of those trips would have been made if the bus were not available.

2) Every one of those trips would have been made by car.

and

3) Every one of those trips would have been made by single occupant car.

It could also mean that 48,313 trips weren't made by bicycle or on foot, adding to the pollution and contributing to the obesity and poor health of Lawrencians.

penguin 5 years, 3 months ago

Just proof the T is benefiting from KU riders. You can argue they do not pay the $1 fee. However, the ridership numbers are what ensure that the T still gets their grant money. They just traded a minor amount of revenue for the ability to show increased ridership numbers and future security toward the money they receive from the feds.

I think people need to give up on the notion of riders fees ever paying for the cost of the system....because no public transit does.

Also the idea of using student fee dollars to pay the T is probably out of the realm of possibility. Once student fees are paid they are essentially state dollars. Heck it took an act of the legislature just to allow universities to keep the interest off of student fees that accumulated while they were in interest-bearing accounts.

The city had long been hostile toward joining with KU regardless of their opinion of LBC (Lawrence Bus Company). It would not have been possible with LBC buses. However, when the city did not get the ridership they needed...look who they came running to. I am glad the numbers are up, but given the nature of the coordination that is starting, I only expect them to keep rising.

cowboy 5 years, 3 months ago

I see no reason why every city service should not pay for itself. Let the users , via their generation of revenue , determine the "right size" of the city's " variable" operations. We are now stuck with a bureaucrats vision of "right size" which has proven itself absolutely wrong.

LogicMan 5 years, 3 months ago

"burning up your equipment at an even faster pace than before"

In addition to the wear and tear on the buses' brakes, engines, tires, seat covers, etc. from more frequent stop and starts, and lugging more weight, the slight increase in fuel consumption needs to be included in a detailed evaluation. Not to mention the slight increase in pollution.

Any numbers yet on decreased revenue due to this arrangement with KU? I presume some of those students rode the T anyway, but now don't have to pay the fare.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

One thing that's not mentioned anywhere in the article, or in any of the posts so far-- Anyone can get on any bus in Lawrence, whether it belongs to KU or the city. If you've got a monthly pass, there is no additional fee.

At this point, the merging of the two systems has benefitted primarily KU users because it entails only routes most frequently traveled by them. As the merger goes forward, routes will be improved/merged that will allow "city" riders to take advantage of the fact the KU has at least twice as many buses as the city.

But will it "pay for itself?" No-- with a few exceptions, no city service ever pays for itself, and if they ever were required to do so, the functioning of the city would likely grind to a halt.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 3 months ago

bozo,

That's why the city should use taxpayer money to pay for essential services only - not taxpayer-funded golf courses, art centers and multi-million dollar softball fields.

And we wonder why government is broke!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Essential to whom, STRS? Cave men? Or modern humans?

penguin 5 years, 3 months ago

Public transit never pays for itself. There is not a public transit system in the world that is not in someway subsidized by a source other than those who ride it. The only way to get public transit to break even would be to charge outrageous prices that would just kill ridership.

If someone does have the answer to accomplish this without charging the riders too much...I am sure the world would love to know.

matchbox81 5 years, 3 months ago

Just to reiterate what's already been said here. KU and the City have an agreement to recognize each other's passes. KU students just show their ID's and can ride any bus, city bus riders with a pass or a transfer can ride any bus. City riders benefit from the higher frequency of the KU routes, KU students benefit from the availability of the T on the weekends and evenings when the KU buses don't run.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 3 months ago

So, bozo, you must support taxpayer funding of our city's debt-ladened golf course. After all, a small minority of citizens considers it an "essential" element of a modern society. When you really think about it, only a cave man would oppose a taxpayer-funded golf course, right?

Your way of thinking encourages every conceivable special interest group to lobby the government for higher taxes and additional government outlays. When a community has no definition of "essential," other than what you say it is, we can't reasonably expect to see fiscal restraint or intelligent stewardship of resources. We only have a cacophony of special interests crying for more, more more.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Cars and trucks cost taxpayers more than public transportation. By a long shot is my speculation.

Just owning a car can cost owners $8,000-$15,000 a year.

LogicMan 5 years, 3 months ago

"Just owning a car can cost owners $8,000-$15,000 a year."

Maybe if you are rich and drive nice, new vehicles that get lousy mileage, or you live in NYC, SF, etc. Much, much less costly for us common folk, especially in this part of the country.

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