The city’s bus transfer hub once again is being shuffled to a new downtown location, but, as Lawrence Transit staff members already know, it’s time to look for a more permanent solution to this problem.
On Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners will be asked to temporarily relocate the transfer hub from Ninth and New Hampshire streets to the 800 block of Vermont Street. The move is needed to accommodate construction that will begin soon on both sides of Ninth Street just east of New Hampshire Street. Moving the bus hub would require the removal of 16 parking spaces on the east side of Vermont Street.
For many years, the transfer hub was located at the heart of downtown near Ninth and Massachusetts streets. In 2010, it was moved to its current location to accommodate construction of a new building at 901 New Hampshire St. Plans to return the hub to Ninth and Massachusetts were delayed by discussions of turning the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence into a transportation hub. That idea fell through, but by that time, opposition to returning the bus hub to Ninth and Massachusetts had surfaced so another temporary move is in the works.
It’s unlikely the hub could ever return to Ninth and New Hampshire, especially if a roundabout is constructed at that intersection, so a long-term solution is needed. To that end, Lawrence Transit is preparing to study the issue and hopes to have a final report by the middle of next year. It is desirable to keep the transfer hub downtown, but transit officials are considering other locations because the number of buses the hub must handle may make it difficult to maintain a downtown location without disrupting traffic too much or taking too many precious parking spaces.
The construction of a new parking facility at the Lawrence Public Library presents some tantalizing possibilities for a bus hub located next to the library, the Outdoor Aquatic Center, the Lawrence Senior Center and the Lawrence Post Office. If that site can’t serve as the main bus hub, construction to accommodate a secondary bus hub should be considered before plans for the library parking facility are finalized.
It will be interesting to see what the transit hub study shows. Maintaining a large transfer station in downtown may be difficult, but it’s important for the public bus system to continue to provide easy access to the many government offices and other businesses that are located downtown.