Talk of a new transit station on the eastern edge of downtown will increase next week, as will proposals to change several routes that are part of the city and Kansas University’s bus systems.
The city and KU will host three public meetings next week to get feedback on proposed changes to the transit system, and city leaders said they still want to hear feedback about the idea of locating a transit hub in the Santa Fe Depot at Seventh and New Jersey streets.
Lawrence Transit Administrator Robert Nugent said his department hosted a meeting about the transit station idea last week, and sensed there was still a lot of misinformation about the possibilities.
“The neighborhood was churned up about it,” Nugent said. “I think a lot of people believed it already was a done deal, and that is not the case.”
The proposal calls for the depot to be used as indoor waiting area for transit riders.
City commissioners also have expressed interest in the idea because it may qualify the 1950s-era building for federal grant money that could be used to improve its condition. A citizens group has urged the city to buy the depot from the railroad, so that the building can eventually be restored.
Nugent said his office is now more confident the depot can accommodate the number of buses the transit system would run through the location.
But the buses would have to load and unload on Seventh Street because the parking lot of the depot is not large enough to accommodate all the buses.
One parking lot also would be used as a turnaround area so that buses would be able to both enter and exit the station via Seventh Street.
Nugent said his office also is evaluating creating a transit hub at Ninth and Massachusetts, much as existed before construction work at the intersection required the outdoor transfer hub to be moved.
“We really just want the public to know that we’re going to be doing something regarding a transit hub at some point, and we want their feedback,” Nugent said.
Transit leaders also will be seeking feedback on several other transit proposals. They include:
• A new route that will travel from the Clinton Parkway and Inverness Drive area to KU’s main campus. Currently that area, which has a number of apartment complexes, doesn’t have a route that travels direct to KU.
• Discontinuing Route 30x. The route is an express route from the Meadowbrook Apartment complex to KU. Three routes serve the Meadowbrook area near Bob Billings and Crestline. Ridership numbers indicate two routes can serve the demand, Nugent said.
• Discontinue the southern third of Route 32, which travels from near Lawrence Memorial Hospital through KU to 23rd and Louisiana. Nugent said ridership numbers on the southern third of the route suggested it could be eliminated. Eliminating that portion of the route will help pay for the new southwest Lawrence route.
• Converting Route 3 — which runs from the Riveredge Industrial Park in northern Lawrence to downtown — into a full-time flex route. A flex route requires riders to call ahead for service, usually about an hour in advance of the ride. The system also allows riders to make standing appointments. The route currently operates on a flex system during non-peak times, but Nugent said the city wants to convert the route over to a full-time flex system in order to make it more efficient.
Public transit leaders will host three meetings to get feedback on the changes. They will be:
• 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Building 1 of the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper Street.
• 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Malott Room of the Kansas Union.
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Lawrence Transit Administration offices, 933 N.H.