Archive for Monday, September 21, 2009

Bus ‘turnouts’ may turn on funding

A Lawrence transit bus pulls into a “turnout” along Ninth Street just west of Emery Road on Friday afternoon. The future of bus turnouts — which take buses out of traffic when stopping for passengers — hinges on available funding.

A Lawrence transit bus pulls into a “turnout” along Ninth Street just west of Emery Road on Friday afternoon. The future of bus turnouts — which take buses out of traffic when stopping for passengers — hinges on available funding.

September 21, 2009

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As city crews work each day to fill potholes, check signs and keep traffic signals functioning properly — efforts designed to ensure the orderly, efficient and safe flow of pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicles on Lawrence streets — one intermittent barrier remains built into the system.

Stopped buses.

But city officials slowly are working to steer buses off the sides of streets as the large vehicles pick up and drop off passengers.

So-called bus “turnouts” are being included, where appropriate, as part of larger road reconstruction and repaving projects. Such turnouts allow buses to pull into dedicated temporary parking lanes so that they can avoid blocking lanes of traffic.

“It’s a direction we’re going to continue to pursue,” said Bob Nugent, administrator for the Lawrence Transit System, better known as the T. “It really does help with traffic flow.”

The south side of Ninth Street, for example, has a new turnout near Avalon Road, in front of University Terrace apartments. Several apartment complexes are in the area, and the stop is popular among Kansas University students and others.

Without the turnout, stopped buses would halt traffic heading east on Ninth. There’s one lane available for such travel, and it’s at the bottom of a hill.

The turnout helps keep traffic flowing safely, said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works. His department managed a project this past summer to upgrade Ninth by realigning the street’s intersection with Avalon, repaving the road from Iowa to Tennessee streets, and adding bike lanes where appropriate.

Bus systems are effective in reducing traffic congestion, Soules said, in that they reduce the number of cars on the road. But if buses are forced to stop in the middle of a lane to pick up and drop off passengers, the drivers following behind can lose that perspective.

“If you want to reduce congestion, ride the bus. Don’t drive a car. Ride the bus,” he said. “But to get people moving more efficiently, put in the bus turnouts.”

Such turnouts, of course, cost money: about $30,000 each, depending on the size and location, Soules said.

Earlier this year, as officials mulled potential projects that could be financed by federal stimulus money, the city envisioned seeking as much as $3 million to add turnouts in town.

That money never materialized, however, and neither the T nor the Public Works Department has set aside specific revenues to add turnouts in the future. Instead, individual projects are reviewed to see where or whether a turnout might be feasible.

The city, for example, is working on plans for rebuilding Kasold Drive, from Clinton Parkway to 31st Street. Engineers are looking at designs for accommodating all modes of transportation in the area, including transit.

A team of consultants also is working on a program to improve coordination between the T and KU on Wheels, the transit operation serving Kansas University. Those experts will be looking at a variety of issues and opportunities, Nugent said, including possibilities for turnouts.

The report is due early next year. Whether turnouts would follow — and who might pay for them — remains undecided, at least for now.

“We’ll make recommendations, I’m sure,” Nugent said. “Public works will make recommendations. If we know of some locations that we know will cause some problems, we will push through until there is some resolution.”

Comments

average 5 years, 8 months ago

New? Hadn't there been a bus turnout there for at least 20 years?

Turnouts are useful. But, want a real change? Get all the buses downtown (or somewhere else) at the same time for coordinated transfers. End the twenty-minute shuffle.

parrothead8 5 years, 8 months ago

20-minute shuffle? Depending on which bus I catch near my house in the morning, I wait between 0-10 minutes for my transfer downtown.

BigPrune 5 years, 8 months ago

The only people that ride the M-T must write on here. Why not use the money for these turnouts and widen 23rd Street?

BigPrune 5 years, 8 months ago

I've noticed that it is now taking an extra 5-6 minutes to go from the west side of lawrence to the east side of lawrence on 23rd street all within the past 4 months. maybe they should spend time straightening out the stop light situation. the reason i know this is my garmin navigator is off 5-6 minutes when it never used to be when it spouts the eta.

Steve Tramba 5 years, 8 months ago

While signal coordination is a great idea Cheese, how is widening 23rd St going to improve things? Talk about your tax $$ burning up, what happens between May - August when Lawrence clears out? Do you really want a widened road that benefits you only during 2/3 of the year? I think most would say no. And gee, 5/6 more min to get across Lawrence? I can't believe a growing town would ever see such a thing! Try getting across a growing Bloomington IN sometime - you'll appreciate only having 5/6 more minutes to your commute.

cowboy 5 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence is getting large enuf that the current streets are/have been inadequate for a decade. I doubt the city has the cajones to start widening the older streets. It would take property purchasing and probably eminent domain processes. That won't happen. Need to build a loop , or finish the existing one. That won't happen in my lifetime either.

so along the happy path we go with added bumps , holes , turnouts and other assorted crap in the middle of the road.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 8 months ago

This is a completely fabricated and non-existent problem. The combination of empty buses and no demand results in those buses only stopping at dedicated stops (and that's only for the drivers' smoke and bathroom breaks.) Spending money on 'turnouts' (I've also heard them called 'cutouts') makes even less sense then spending even one more penny on roundabouts!

Empty buses that don't stop: an imaginary problem that requires no 'solution'. Ridiculous.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

20-minute shuffle? Depending on which bus I catch near my house in the morning, I wait between 0-10 minutes for my transfer downtown.

---indeed, going from route #3 [lmh] to #4 [north lawrence] there's zero (0) wait time.

but I do wonder about the cutouts. and agree with CB above, there's far too much emphasis on traffic constipation. our dear poster Merrill has really pushed for that, so can't blame it all on Chuck.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

Yes, a cross-town commute has gotten a bit slower due to the emp-T stopping to pick up the occasional passenger.

However, our city is growing, and traffic on 23rd Street has become a problem. Time to get smart and finish the South Lawrence Trafficway in order to significantly ease the congestion.

Eddie Muñoz 5 years, 8 months ago

I wish all things in life were as easy as some of you seem to think ending the traffic problems in Lawrence would be.

puddleglum 5 years, 8 months ago

don't even get me started on the congressional/6th street abortion of an intersection.

cheesburger-"but Chucky's mantra seems to be to choke and restrict the smooth flow of vehicular traffic, rather than trying to move it efficiently and effectively"

I was wondering who to blame for this, I always figured it was wal-mart trying to prioritize congressional's right of way, thus allowing people to cut through the neighborhood rather than go through the light at 6th & wakarusa... This intersection MUST change! every car on 6th st stops for one car pulling up to the light on congressional. Take 5-mins and observe this completely unsafe and un-green intersection....and while you are at it, why does the left lane turning into wal-mart stay on flashing yellow, but all of the ones one block down on stoneridge stay red? hmm? if anything, the stoneridge dr intersection should be a flashing yellow in the turn lanes on 6th street. something very fishy and dangerous is going on out there.

God, I am in full agreement with bigprune. That's not often-and goes to show you that neither obama or g-dubya are to blame for this debacle of a traffic flow.

mr_right_wing 5 years, 8 months ago

Someone 'generally' agrees with ME?!

Watch it...that can get your run out of the "San Francisco of the mid-west"! (aka Lawrence, KS)

I've managed to keep the liberal mobs after me at bay so far; but it ain't been easy!!

GardenMomma 5 years, 8 months ago

Turn outs on one lane roads are great, but DON'T waste the money building them on two or three lane roads. Have dedicated stops (not just where anyone is standing between stops) and drivers will begin to shift left to pass the parked buses.

Yes, I called to find out the stops and was actually told that if there wasn't a stop where I wanted to get on the bus, I could stand there and flag it down! Hopefully that policy has changed. No wonder drivers are frustrated at stopped buses.

I took the bus everywhere when I lived in L.A. and saw how efficient public transportation could be, it just needs to be coordinated very well.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 8 months ago

No. This is the biggest waste of money I have ever seen!

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