Route changes as of Aug. 2
Route 1 and Route 2 will be merged into a single route, called Route 1. The route will serve East Lawrence from Downtown to 23rd Street and Haskell Indian Nations University. Route 2 will no longer exist.
Route 3 will be modified to include peak and off-peak alignments, and an off-peak Flex zone. During off-peak periods, the fixed route will end at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and riders may call and schedule to be picked up at any address in the Flex service area.
Route 5 will be split into two routes, called Route 5 and Route 9. Route 5 will travel from South Iowa to the East Hills Business Park. Route 9 will travel from South Iowa to Sixth and Wakarusa.
Route 6 will be split into two routes called Route 6 and Route 10. Route 6 will travel from Downtown to Sixth and Wakarusa, via Sixth Street. Route 10 will travel from Downtown to Sixth and Wakarusa via Ninth and 15th streets, and will return via the KU campus.
Route 7 will be modified to create more frequency. There will be no changes to the route alignment.
Route 9 is a new route created by splitting Route 5 into two routes. It will travel from South Iowa to Sixth and Wakarusa.
Route 10 is a new route created by splitting Route 6 into two routes. It will travel from Downtown to Sixth and Wakarusa via Ninth and 15th streets, and will return via the KU campus.
Route 26 alignment will be modified to reduce overcrowding.
Almost a year into the integration of the Lawrence and Kansas University transit systems, ridership is higher.
Now the two departments plan to roll out several changes to the system for the new school year.
“What we’ve done over time is by doing a joint fare we have been able to say that anybody can ride in the community on any bus, so by doing that it immediately gave more access to the people both on campus and in the community,” said Bob Nugent, public transit administrator for the city of Lawrence.
KU students, faculty and staff can travel back and forth to campus, as well as most places in town, even when classes are not in session.
“By improving access through coordination we’re helping students get around without dependency on a car,” said Derek Meier, transportation coordinator for KU on Wheels and a senior in civil engineering. “The benefit is tremendous, and I think the increase in ridership speaks for that.”
Though KU does not keep statistics for the number of passengers, the increase is notable, especially on Route 11, which runs from South Iowa Street through campus to downtown. Nugent reported a 14 percent increase in ridership from May 2009 to May 2010, but this number only include the city transit system.
With the success of the coordinated transit system in mind, the city and university have made many changes to the bus routes, which went into effect Aug. 2, including improving one of the most popular routes: Route 11.
“(Route 11) has provided more frequent service for city passengers and whole buses. It’s very popular and a very highly used route, and the more we do that, the ridership is just going to go up,” said Danny Kaiser, assistant director of parking and transit at KU.
Another important change will merge routes 1 and 2 into one route, which allowed the city and university to start a new route from the northwest part of city to the south Lawrence shopping center. This new Route 9, which was split from Route 5, was established after years of patron requests for the route, Kaiser said.
The coordinated transit departments also split Route 6 and will increase the frequency of several bus routes to improve the coverage and connectivity throughout the city and campus.
Though new brochures boast 80 percent of the city’s population will be within one half mile of a transit route in August, Nugent said the more important changes came to increased connectivity.
“We haven’t changed a lot of what we are covering, but we’re doing a better job of connecting routes,” Nugent said.
The city and university are not only coordinating improved routes, Nugent said. KU is in the process of building a new, larger maintenance facility in the northern industrial district of Lawrence that the city and university will share. He also said the two departments have formed fuel task forces and coordinated other ways to improve efficiency.
“There’s a lot of things that students nor the public will see a lot of difference in but it will make a whole lot of difference in how we operate,” Nugent said.
Riders also will not a see rise in fees, which was made possible by increased ridership and pooling resources.
“So far we have been able to do everything that we’ve done without increasing the number of service hours,” Kaiser said. “We look for efficiencies and use our resources jointly and wisely.”
With a likely increase in ridership, Kaiser said people need to be aware of possible delays or full buses.
“People have to learn that they can’t all get on the same bus,” he said. “Sometimes you need to plan depending on what time you want to get to your destination rather than taking the bus that gets you there exactly on time, you should take the previous bus that takes you there earlier.”