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


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.


StuckinKansas 4 years 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.

pfeifer 4 years ago

They are consolidated. Some KU bus routes were adjusted to operate further around the city, and some Lawrence routes were adjusted to run through campus. The buses that only serve the dorms still do so, otherwise T routes were adjusted and optimized to run smoothly with KU routes. They also now allow those users who have free bus riding privileges at KU to ride free of T buses and vice versa. What more would you have them do? Order a whole new fleet of buses under a combined transit system name?

imastinker 4 years ago

That's not the same as consolidating.

StuckinKansas 4 years ago

why do I see both bus systems running the same routes? Or at least I get stuck behind both bus systems sitting at the same spots.

Kyle Reed 4 years ago

You don't. You're probably confusing the K-10 connector buses with the KU campus buses. They are not the same system but the buses look very similar.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

There is certainly some overlap, but only where it's been determined that the capacity is needed, or where routes happen to intersect or coincide for a short distance.

nekansan 4 years 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.

gilly 4 years ago

Residential streets are torn up by constant short trips by residents, and those repeated short trips are where the real waste of gas occurs. Bus service alleviates both. Taxi service is a for-profit venture that is expensive ($9 a trip and up) and erratic in availability: waits for service can be from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Your suggestion that bus service is the last thing we need doesn't make sense--it's one of the things this town has needed for a very long time.

gillettee 4 years ago

So how long do you think you will be waiting for this bus at 2am in the morning compared to waiting for a taxi at 2am in the morning?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

The buses will be sent out to pick up multiple passengers per trip, unlike taxi service.

gccs14r 4 years ago

Especially since they last only half as long.

ModSquadGal 4 years ago

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

Driver_611400 4 years ago

maybe you missed something ... they're spending LESSSSSSS.

Driver_611400 4 years ago

maybe you missed something ... they're spending LESSSSSSS.

gccs14r 4 years 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.

jafs 4 years ago

I've been saying that for years.

Nobody seems interested - I've spoken with numerous people at the city, including past and present administrators of the system.

It makes no sense at all to me the way it's currently designed.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

The reason they don't run a straight grid system is simply because they don't have enough buses to do that. They are required by federal law to cover the whole city, but they also need to target the areas that are the highest density origins and destinations, and the existing system is how they've determined accomplishes that the best.

A rather modest increase in the number of buses likely could add much of the functionality that you and gccr suggest, although that is likely politically unachievable.

jafs 4 years ago

In many conversations with city administrators/etc. nobody's ever mentioned a federal requirement to cover the whole city.

doc1 4 years ago

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

gccs14r 4 years ago

The bodywork is falling apart for one thing. The engines are probably ready for a major overhaul, too. They also think they're going to save on fuel, but I bet they figure out really fast that that's not the case.

LogicMan 4 years ago

"The bodywork is falling apart for one thing. The engines are probably ready for a major overhaul, too."

So fix them. Always cheaper than buying brand-new vehicles, until the frames rot out.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

The problem is that once they get so worn, they spend more time in the repair shop than on the streets providing service.

imastinker 4 years ago

How does body work fall apart on a bus? Engine overhauls are cheap too.

I also bet the new buses save considerably. These are based on a one ton chassis, and probably get at least 4-5 MPG on gasoline or better on diesel. Maintenance costs will be very different. Brakes on a one ton might cost $500 and brakes on a bigger chassis might cost four times that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

My guess is that they'll be sold, reconditioned, and put back into use somewhere.

gilly 4 years ago

The old buses have been operating past their expiry date and need constant repairs--they needed to be replaced a long time ago.

aghora 4 years ago

There is something seriously dangerous about a fleet of buses, many with no ac/heater, having to speed on routes because the city doesn't care about route logistics, with a spedometer that doesn't work or is inaccurate. Did you all forget the bus that burst into flames near LMH? Many of the engines have already been overhauled. And as already said... used waay past their experation date..

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

A new bus barn is nearly completed, if not already there.

jjaybean63 4 years ago

It is ready and we move in on 12-19-2010

redmoonrising 4 years 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?

Jacks_Smirking_Revenge 4 years ago

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

CLARKKENT 4 years ago


Blessed4x 4 years 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.

snoozey 4 years ago

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

4 years ago

This "empty bus" idea people have is just ridiculous. Go downtown when the routes converge and watch how many passengers get on your "empty" buses. Yes, some routes may have lower ridership than others but that's what the smaller buses are all about: adjusting the service to meet the demand. Any city worth it's salt is going to have a public transit system, period. Go jump on Route 6 one of these days and ride it for a few laps. After seeing all those people the transit system helps maybe you'll change your tune.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"After seeing all those people the transit system helps maybe you'll change your tune."

Nah-- most of the complainers here are motivated by ideology, not facts.

bangaranggerg 4 years ago

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

MyName 4 years 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?

Driver_611400 4 years ago

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

hantan 3 years, 5 months ago

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

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