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.