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Archive for Monday, September 27, 2010

Lawrence public transit systems honored by state, federal associations

Ridership increase since KU, city bus lines merged is best in the state

KU on Wheels and the T received some praise for their ridership increases during the last several years. Changes in rider requirements have help increase numbers.

September 27, 2010

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It’s being hailed the “Best Bus Around,” and state and federal officials are smiling.

KU on Wheels and The T were jointly honored by the Federal Transit Association for the highest percentage increase in ridership among urban bus providers in Kansas.

Ridership is up 19.9 percent for the 2008-2009 year.

The T was also named the Kansas Public Transit Association System of the Year.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Bob Nugent, Lawrence public transportation administrator. “It’s nice to get recognition in your own hometown and fantastic when you get recognition on the state and regional levels.”

Both KU and the city attribute the success of the systems to a decision to coordinate transit services.

As a result, route 11 was launched in August 2009. It runs through downtown, on campus and shopping areas and serves a number of student apartment complexes.

“I think people like the fact that they have more choices, there are buses that go further than what they are used to and in some cases buses come more frequently,” said Danny Kaiser, KU assistant director of parking and transit.

Also, KU went to a new fare system in 2008. That allowed students to pay up front, then use their campus ID as a bus pass on either transit system.

“It was one of the first years when we were able to pay for the bus through student funds and it’s really helped a lot,” said senior Paige Lohse.

The bus systems operate a combined 15 routes that provide 2.7 million rides annually.

Comments

LogicMan 3 years, 11 months ago

Good news that ridership is up.

Now, complete the story. What's the T's actual annual revenue as compared to expenses, in percentage? Getting closer to expected 50%? Was something pitiful such as 8% previously.

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Stuart Evans 3 years, 11 months ago

5 riders + 1 rider = 20% increase.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 3 years, 11 months ago

No, 1 is not the same thing as 450 thousand. Therefore, 20% of 5 is not the same thing as 20% of 2.25 million.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 3 years, 11 months ago

Here, we'll demonstrate it this way: I'll give you 20% of $5. You give me 20% of $2.25 million.

Since it's the same thing, we'll be even.

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sourpuss 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes, actually federal requirements are that ridership is audited quite closely. The KU buses are well-used and often packed.

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lawrencenerd 3 years, 10 months ago

Buses have rush times, just like rush hour on a highway when people get off work. At certain times the buses are packed, and not just the KU ones.

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Ralph Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

Contrary to two above comments, this is great! The one back-handed compliment and one one outright sarcastic slap are unwarranted.

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sourpuss 3 years, 11 months ago

Your judgment of the transit system is misguided. Counting more riders is hardly "manipulation" - more people are using the bus. I'm sorry if that upsets you. I should think that you would be happy that there are fewer cars on the road to get in your way, fewer potholes made by those many more cars, lower bills for street repair, cleaner air, and fewer drunk drivers on weekends. Maybe you should just accept the bus system as a useful part of a healthy city.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 3 years, 11 months ago

The T is a service that Lawrence voters found important enough that, a couple of years ago, they overwhelmingly supported and voted to maintain. Although you determine it to be floundering, inefficient, ineffective, wasteful, and obnoxious, most of the residents who voted disagreed with you.

Or, is your point that you disagree that citizens should be voting on whether to maintain public services?

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

"most of the residents who voted disagreed with you"

How many was that, by the way?

And why aren't THEY riding the bus?

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Thinking_Out_Loud 3 years, 11 months ago

Somewhere around 35K voted to implement the new taxes that essentially kept the T. That was 70% of the 51K or so that cast ballots. As for why "they" aren't, you would have to ask them. Me and mine, we use the T several times a month.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 3 years, 11 months ago

Should have checked my memory: around 27K voted for and around 11K voted against. http://www2.ljworld.com/elections/2008/nov/04/

Still, opponents needed to have another 16K votes to come out on top.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Also, incidentally, how do you think the vote would have turned out if everyone affected by the tax got to cast a ballot?

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Thinking_Out_Loud 3 years, 11 months ago

Doesn't matter how everyone "affected" (now there's an ambiguous term--"affected" in what way?) might have voted. It matters only what the registered voters who cast ballots in November '08 did. Again, the result was conclusive: the ratio of those supporting it to those not was greater than 2:1. If that's not a mandate, I don't know what is.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

"Doesn't matter how everyone "affected" (now there's an ambiguous term--"affected" in what way?) might have voted."

Gee, there's a surprise. Sorry I didn't realize I had to be more explicit in explaining "affected by". See, ToL, it's a sales tax - that means it's not just the 28,000 people who voted for the tax, or even just the residents of the City of Lawrence that are "affected", it's everyone who spends money in Lawrence. But, hey, that's the liberal way, isn't it? 'We don't care if you raise taxes to provide more services (for us) - as long as it's someone else's taxes.'

"If that's not a mandate, I don't know what is."

If you think 28,000 'yes' votes out of the hundreds of thousands of people that have to foot the bill is a "mandate", then you're right - you don't know what a "mandate" is.

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jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

They don't "have" to foot the bill - they can simply choose not to shop in Lawrence, as you have.

It may be a peculiarity of how sales taxes are enacted, but I'm sure it's not particular to Lawrence.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

No, it's not particular to Lawrence. It's no different than, say, KCMO building a new arena with a tax on rental cars - the idea being, again, get someone else to pay for it, someone that can't say "no".

If you remember, the deal was the city would increase the sales tax and stop using property tax revenues to fund the mT. This is irrefutably an attempt to shift the burden of taxes away from the people of the city. Like I said - 'We'll vote for a tax increase, as long as it's not on US.'

Not everyone has my options to shop elsewhere. But in at least one sense, yes, they did have to foot the bill - because if more people like me decided to shop elsewhere, Lawrencians would have to pay for it all themselves. Let's see if you can get 28,000 people to vote 'yes' on a property tax increase for the mT.

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jafs 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, if enough people shopped elsewhere, then the sales tax wouldn't be sufficient, so the city would have to do something else.

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lawrencenerd 3 years, 10 months ago

You're logic is flawed. People that live in Lawrence shop in Lawrence. People that don't live in Lawrence don't have to shop in Lawrence, so they aren't really footing the bill. Just because somebody comes shopping here from KCMO or something for one day doesn't mean the majority of the money they spend on sales tax ends up in Lawrence's coffers, just a tiny amount from the time they spend here. Most of those sales taxes come from Lawrence residents, since they are the people that shop in here primarily. Comparing it to taxing rental cars, which primarily out of towners use, is completely inane.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

"Comparing it to taxing rental cars, which primarily out of towners use, is completely inane."

Actually, one of the biggest opponents to KCMO's rental car tax was a rental agency who had the figures to back up the fact that most of their rentals were to locals. It's not just out-of-towners that rent cars.

I don't believe I ever said "all", and apologize if you got that impression. But the fact remains that the funding for the mT changed from a system where all of it was funded by Lawrence residents (from property taxes) to a system where only part of it was (in sales taxes). And no matter how you try to slice it, that did shift some of the burden onto people who a) did not vote on the tax, and b) do not use the mT. Again I'll ask the question: If the vote had been for a transit tax that affected only Lawrence residents, such as an increase in the property taxes, do you think it would have passed?

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jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

No.

I mean that if enough people chose not to shop in Lawrence as a result of the tax, then the city would have to do something else.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 11 months ago

We don't need no stinking warrant!

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wprop 3 years, 11 months ago

WHAT A JOKE........GEO. ORWELL IN 1N 1984....THE BUSES FILLED WITH CITIZENS EAGER TO ATTEND RALLY FOR BUS MANAGERS.............

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lawrencenerd 3 years, 10 months ago

The paratransit buses are for people with disabilities that for whatever reason cannot ride the normal bus. The fare is also higher. Do you honestly thing somebody that is incapable of making it to a bus stop should not have the right to get to appointments and do errands? You find a small taxi that can handle somebody in a large wheelchair and multiple passengers and suggest that to them if you are so in touch with the needs of Lawrence's disabled people. I rode that bus for almost a year when I was unable to walk, and I'm glad it was there. It didn't just have 1 person on it at a time either, they would pick up and drop off multiple riders as efficiently as was possible considering you are talking about people that need door to door service because of disability.

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snoozey 3 years, 11 months ago

Wait a moment. If there are "2.25 million + 450,000" T-bus rides in a city of 125,00 that means every man woman and child in town (or equivalent) must have ridden the bus 22 times a year (last year). How come every bus I see is empty or has a single passenger? This confuses me even more than the round-a-bouts.

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collared_greens 3 years, 11 months ago

KU students do not get free rides. Every student pays almost $70 a semester whether they ride the bus or not.

Which makes this statement from the story wrong:

Also, KU went to a new fare system in 2008. That allowed students to pay up front, then use their campus ID as a bus pass on either transit system.

It's not that students are "allowed" to. We are REQUIRED to. It's part of our student fees.

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wprop 3 years, 11 months ago

iNFORMANT sez that drivers often "overcount" riders to insure continuation of their routes.....is there ever an audit of "rides"

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Centerville 3 years, 11 months ago

If ridership is up, I'm sure we can look forward to a reduced taxpayer subsidy. Right?

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jafs 3 years, 10 months ago

That's correct.

However, most public transit systems get more from fares than Lawrence does - I'd like to see that percentage increase to about 50%, commensurate with other cities.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

If my memory of recent stories about the mT serves, fare revenue was actually down, meaning the 'increased ridership' was due to nothing more than allowing students to ride for free. And they are riding the mT buses for free, despite comments like this:

collared_greens (anonymous) says… "KU students do not get free rides. Every student pays almost $70 a semester whether they ride the bus or not."

Yes, you are riding for free. As you mentioned, the transportation fee has to be paid whether or not you ride - just as you have to pay the athletics fee whether or not you participate in a sport or attend the games, and the health fee whether or not you get sick.. Your fellow students are paying it if they don't ride the bus, so it does not cost you anything more than what they're paying to ride.

The transportation fee also would have been levied, regardless, just for riding the KU buses - extending that to the mT was a free bonus. Especially as, I believe, the mT doesn't get any money from that $70 you pay.

And what happens when a student is a daily rider on the mT? That $70 would pay for two months out of the semester even if they used monthly passes, the rest of the semester doesn't cost a dime.

As someone above mentioned, your transportation fee is more like a tax. If someone makes a major purchase, such as a car, in Lawrence, they're paying more in the bus tax than you pay in your student transportation fee. They still have to pay the fare to get on the bus.

So yes, you are riding at least the mT buses for free.

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Lindsey Buscher 3 years, 11 months ago

If we are making things up now based on selective memory of recent stories, I can argue that iceT fare revenue was actually up, meaning the 'increased ridership' was due to nothing more than more people riding the buses than before. And they are riding the iceT buses for a fee, and comments like this are correct:

collared_greens (anonymous) says… "KU students do not get free rides. Every student pays almost $70 a semester whether they ride the bus or not."

Yes, you are riding for a fee. As you mentioned, the transportation fee has to be paid whether or not you ride - just as you have to pay the athletics fee whether or not you participate in a sport or attend the games, and the health fee whether or not you get sick.. Your fellow students are paying it if they don't ride the bus, so you are all essentially making an up-front deposit for riding the bus so it does not cost you anything more to ride.

The transportation fee also was levied because the students voted to include it in their fees, regardless, just for riding the KU buses - extending that to the iceT was a bonus of hard work and coordination between the city and KU. Especially as, I believe, the iceT gets more money from that increased ridership.

As someone above mentioned, your transportation fee is more like a tax an a tax is like a fee. If someone makes a major purchase, such as a car, in Lawrence, they're paying a sales tax because there is no such thing as a bus tax, none of which has anything to do with a student transportation fee. They still have to pay the fare to get on the bus because such a small portion of taxes go towards supporting the iceT.

So yes, you are riding at least the iceT buses for a fee.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Hey, porch_per ... er, pugsley's back!

Still letting your parrot do your posting, pugs?

Maybe you should teach your parrot to Google. Seems my memory served just a little better than his.

"I can argue that iceT fare revenue was actually up, meaning the 'increased ridership' was due to nothing more than more people riding the buses than before."

From July 2010, the most recent figures published on the mT's website:

Ridership: 37,203, up from 33,046 in 2009, an increase of 12.6%. Revenue: $19,577.45, down from $21,888.63 in 2009, a decrease of 10.6%.

http://www.lawrenceks.org/transit/system/files/July+2010+Ridership.pdf

Of course, that was a summer month when many students weren't even going to school. So let's look at May 2010:

Ridership: 36,110, up from 31,564 over 2006. Revenue: $15,019.22, down from $26,634.86 in 2009, a decrease of a rather significant 43.6%.**

http://www.lawrenceks.org/transit/system/files/May+2010+Ridership_0.pdf

** (The vast majority of that drop-off in revenues was from "Passes/Tickets", which dropped from $14,945.46 all the way to $4,721.00, presumably because students no longer had to buy passes.)

Also, see the City of Lawrence 2010 budget:

http://www.lawrenceks.org/budget_files/2010/adopted_2010_budget.pdf

$2,629,764 to be transferred in from sales tax revenues budgeted $273,499 budgeted from farebox receipts $2,903,263 total budgeted receipts

Hmmm - yep, looked at it again, and don't seem to see anything mentioned about getting part of the KU student transportation fee.

Your parrot really needs to check his facts a little better before spouting off, pugs.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Just as it's always a treat to see aggie drop by to criticize the 'sour persimmons' without saying anything to dispute their posts.

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3 years, 11 months ago

I don't ride the T but am glad that it is available for people that need it. I hope it continues to get more popular. That will make it closer to being a break even project.

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notajayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

"That will make it closer to being a break even project."

How will more people riding without paying bring it closer to breaking even, pray tell?

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wprop 3 years, 11 months ago

Would favor increasing financial support of "t" if operations were transparent and noise level of buses reduced ......they make more nose than a manhood challenged ortodontist on a Harley.........

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begin60 3 years, 11 months ago

Progress is being made---nothing to scoff at! Does say something about the level of civilization in Kansas compared to other states though. Bus service in Lawrence still doesn't compare in quality, courtesy, or reliability to anywhere else I've ever lived, even in the Midwest. Bullying from other riders and even the drivers is fairly rampant, plus it seems Lawrence bought other citys' outmoded buses from a previous century---hardly state-of- the art!

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notajayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Made_in_China (Paul R. Getto) says…

"For some reason, public transportation is expected to 'pay for itself,' something not done with other public services and which doesn't happen even in more densely populated urban areas."

I thought you liberals were always touting the transit systems in places like the Far East as shining examples of what we should be doing? In Tokyo they make something like a 70% profit.

And in many of those urban areas you mentioned, the farebox covers around 60% of expenses - not 10% or less like the mT.

Oh, BTW: As the population ages, you're going to see more cars, not less:

http://76.12.4.249/artman2/uploads/1/UCD-ITS-RR-08-35.pdf

"Elderly Americans rely on their personal auto for a majority of their trips, more than any other age group"

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

70 % of voting taxpayers voted to approve this public transportation system. This was a high voter turnout day.

Too bad 70% of taxpayers do not have the same opportunity to speak on behalf of other ventures that in fact do increases our taxes without OUR votes.

70% of voting taxpayers on a high voter turnout day is a healthy majority. Good job voters!

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notajayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

"70 % of voting taxpayers voted to approve this public transportation system. This was a high voter turnout day."

It was a high turnout day because it was a general election including a presidential election, nimrod. It's not as if people turned out in droves to vote for the sales tax increase.

And to say 70% of voting taxpayers approved the sales tax is not entirely accurate, is it? Many of those people that pay the tax weren't allowed to vote. It would be more accurate to say '70% of voting Lawrencians elected to stop paying for the mT by themselves (through property taxes) and to dump some of the expense on people that had no say in the matter.'

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