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Archive for Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lawrence transit system getting six new buses that are shorter and cheaper

Stan Martin, supervisor for KU on Wheels, helps train drivers to operate six new city buses Tuesday, Nov., 29, 2010.

Stan Martin, supervisor for KU on Wheels, helps train drivers to operate six new city buses Tuesday, Nov., 29, 2010.

November 30, 2010

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Six new, smaller buses will be added to the city T system after driver route training. The buses include sixteen seats plus access and room for wheelchairs.

Six new, smaller buses will be added to the city T system after driver route training. The buses include sixteen seats plus access and room for wheelchairs.

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The city’s public transit service is set to unveil six new buses that are a full five feet shorter than the 30-foot buses the city has been using since the system began in 2001.

The shorter buses cost about $20,000 less per bus, but that’s not the main reason city leaders said they decided shorter was better.

“Really, what it will do is provide us a lot more flexibility than we’ve ever had before,” said Robert Nugent, the city’s public transit administrator.

That greater flexibility may mean the city will start exploring new service options that go deeper into neighborhoods, something that has been tough to do with 30-foot buses.

Already, the city is testing a new flex-service system on Route 3, which goes between the Lakeview Industrial Park and downtown. During peak morning and early-evening hours the route functions like any other city transit route. But during midday, people along the route must call the city’s transit office to schedule a ride. Instead of being required to go to a bus stop, riders can request that the bus come to them. That means city buses need to be able to navigate neighborhood obstacles such as cul-de-sacs and side streets lined with parked cars.

Nugent said having shorter buses will give the city the option of adding other flex-service routes in the future. The city previously had proposed adding a flex-service route in a portion of North Lawrence, but dropped the idea after some riders expressed concern.

Thus far, Nugent said he hasn’t heard much feedback, negative or positive, about the new Route 3 flex-service.

“We still think it is going to work very well,” Nugent said. “Usually it takes about six months to a year for people to figure out one of these systems and really use it to its full benefit.”

The new buses are expected to start appearing on city streets later this week. Drivers currently are being trained on the new vehicles, and the final pieces of equipment are being installed.

In addition to being cheaper to purchase, the vehicles are expected to get better fuel mileage than the larger buses. But Nugent said he couldn’t yet predict how much better. The new buses will operate on gasoline as opposed to diesel, and he said it will be interesting to see how efficiently they will idle. The buses also aren’t expected to last as long as the larger vehicles. The smaller buses have a mileage life of about 200,000 miles, while the larger buses are rated for about 350,000 miles.

The purchase, which totaled $480,000, is one of several the city is making to replace its entire fleet of 12 transit buses. All the buses are 2002 models that have more than 360,000 miles. In mid-2011, the city is expected to take delivery on three 40-foot hybrid electric-diesel buses. Those buses will be used on newer routes that have become busier since the city has allowed Kansas University students to ride the buses without paying a city fare. In late 2011, the city will receive three 31-foot buses that will be used on several of the city’s main routes.

Comments

hantan 2 years, 9 months ago

I would like the buses to run on Sundays! For both the pious and the rest of us.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 4 months ago

The experiment continues. Why aren't the T Lift buses being used to run the requests called in. They rarely ever have more than one person on them.

They are small and more efficient. It has been proven. They are constantly on the street day after day and rarely are they broken down. They hold enough people to make them efficient.

When will the public transportation experiment end? Does anyone know? A bus 5 feet shorter isn't short enough.

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michaelclayton 3 years, 4 months ago

Serious question here. If anyone knows the answer please share.

Has the City of Lawrence ever lowered taxes due to shrinking the city budget? Ever?

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Driver_611400 3 years, 4 months ago

Remember, Public Transportation is a common target of international terrorism. Every time you disrespect the T, the terrorists WIN.

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MyName 3 years, 4 months ago

I really don't get all the complaints. The bus system costs less than 2% of the budget. None of the drivers are actual city employees (they work for the company we're contracting with) and it seems like at least 2-3% of the population uses the system.

Why don't we have all these people trying to figure out where the remaining 98% of the budget is going to?

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bangaranggerg 3 years, 4 months ago

You could probably win a seat on the city commission on the platform, "I've ridden the short bus my entire life."

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snoozey 3 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if empty short buses will make us happier than empty big buses ?

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Blessed4x 3 years, 4 months ago

Darn it, Jacks! I read through all those crappy posts just to make certain MY short bus joke would be the first. Oh well, thunder stolen. Well played.

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CLARKKENT 3 years, 4 months ago

WOW, MORE MONEY THROWN AT THE MT SYSTEM.

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Jacks_Smirking_Revenge 3 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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redmoonrising 3 years, 4 months ago

Does this mean that regular riders are riding for free door-to-door while T-Lift passengers, the disabled and elderly, will still be paying for the service? Just wondering. It's already hard to get through to schedule or cancel rides. I'm guessing another expense will be more people in the city's transit office to help schedule all these rides?

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Eybea Opiner 3 years, 4 months ago

Where the he!! are they going to park them? The bus barn is full as it is.

Another half-mil down the drain. Not to worry, we'll just raise taxes (again!).

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doc1 3 years, 4 months ago

Why not use the old ones? Nothing wrong with getting by with what you have.

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gccs14r 3 years, 4 months ago

More people would ride it if the routes made more sense. A person should be able to hop on a bus at 19th and Harper, ride straight west to Iowa, then hop on a southbound Iowa bus to get to Target or a northbound to get to the Merc. Having the busses stop at 8 p.m. keeps 2nd and 3rd shift people from using the system, too.

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ModSquadGal 3 years, 4 months ago

Yeah - because SO many people ride the stupid bus in this town. Let's spend MORE money on it! Sheesh...

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gccs14r 3 years, 4 months ago

Especially since they last only half as long.

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cheeseburger 3 years, 4 months ago

If the smaller buses are only $20K cheaper than the larger ones, someone's being taken advantage of, and I have a feeling it's the taxpayers!

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nekansan 3 years, 4 months ago

I thought the city already had a service that will pick you up at the door and give you a ride. It's called a taxi. The last thing we need is buses traveling residential streets tearing up roads and wasting fuel to give a single person door to door service.

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CorkyHundley 3 years, 4 months ago

It ain't their money so they spend it anyway they want. Whimsical Procurement Department is in charge of the little transportation details.

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StuckinKansas 3 years, 4 months ago

I thought the sales tax voted on in 2008 was to consolidate the two bus systems. This does not look like tax dollars being spent the way the bill was voted for. Although the buses are a great purchase, we still have two systems in a town that should have one. Looks like a case of we have to spend it because we have it instead of truly being a steward of tax payers money.

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