The city plans to have four informational meetings about the proposed transit route changes next week. They are set for:
• 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Lawrence Visitors Center, 402 N. Second St.
• 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Douglas County Fairgrounds Building 21, 2120 Harper St.
• 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 25 at Lawrence Transit offices, 933 N.H.
• 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.
Riders of the city’s public transit system should prepare for route changes, especially if they travel in or near North Lawrence, Haskell Indian Nations University or the Prairie Park neighborhood.
City leaders will host four public meetings next week to get input on proposed changes that will add some new areas of service but also increase wait times for some parts of town.
“Operationally, we’re trying to get to a higher level of service, a higher level of efficiency, and we’re also looking for opportunities to get to some areas of town we’re not servicing right now,” said Robert Nugent, public transit administrator for the city.
Among changes proposed are:
• North Lawrence: The city plans to change the frequency of service along North Lawrence’s Route 4 from 40 minutes to 60 minutes. But the city is also lengthening the route so it will provide service to the Ninth and Iowa area and to The Merc.
Nugent said the city had been struggling with ways to provide bus service to the popular grocery store, and extending the North Lawrence route, which goes through downtown, seemed the most logical.
“Route 4 has had some problems with ridership,” Nugent said. “We are trying to find ways to get more ridership on that route.”
• Haskell Indian Nations University: The city is proposing to reduce the number of transit routes that serve Haskell from two to one. Under the plan, Route 1 no longer would go through Haskell’s campus. Route 5, which basically runs along 23rd Street and South Iowa Street, would continue to serve the university.
• Prairie Park neighborhood: By dropping Haskell from Route 1, the city will be able to expand the route to serve the Prairie Park neighborhood. Specifically, the new Route 1 would travel on Harper Street to 27th Street and would travel along 27th Street over to Haskell Avenue. The frequency of service also would improve from 40 minutes currently to 30 minutes.
Nugent said he’s proposing the change to Route 1 because he wants to increase its frequency and also wants to attract new riders from the Prairie Park area. But he conceded that the changes likely would cause several people who use the bus to get to Haskell to make an extra transfer.
Minor changes also are proposed for routes 3, 5, 10 and 11.
The city hasn’t set a date for the route changes to take effect. Instead, the city’s public transit leaders want to get feedback from the public before finalizing the changes.