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Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2012

County leaders to decide on support for K-10 bus service

September 11, 2012

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Douglas County leaders soon enough are going to have to figure out whether they want to financially help Johnson County with its strapped transit system.

That’s right, at least in the area of transit, Douglas County has the financial upper hand over its wealthy neighbor to the east.

Now, Douglas County leaders have to decide whether they want to provide financing to the K-10 Connector bus service that runs between Lawrence and the campuses of the Johnson County Community College and Kansas University’s Edwards Campus.

Bob Nugent, the city’s transit administrator, told the city’s Public Transit Advisory Board on Tuesday that he needs some guidance on how to proceed. He said the service has value to the overall region, but he’s not sure whether it falls into Lawrence’s public transit mission.

“The local referendum we had several years ago was to improve service here in Lawrence,” Nugent said, referring to the 2008 election that approved two sales taxes to support transit. “Do we want to spend money to help a regional organization? I think that is what we have to discuss.”

Area leaders will have some time to discuss it. Nugent said Johnson County leaders have told him the K-10 Connector service is safe through 2013. Johnson County also hasn’t requested a specific dollar amount to help the service meet its funding challenges.

Currently, neither Lawrence nor Douglas County provide funding for the commuter service. Nugent said several leaders from the city, Douglas County and KU have agreed to meet with Johnson County officials and the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Johnson County estimates about 60 percent of the ridership originates in Lawrence, and both sides agree the service is primarily used either by students or people who work at KU or one of the Johnson County campuses.

But Danny Kaiser, assistant director of parking and transit for KU, said KU likely will not be supportive of any idea that involves increasing student fees to subsidize the K-10 Connector service.

“The number of students being served by the service is relatively small when you compare it to the whole student body,” Kaiser said. “I think we’ll get a lot of push back if this isn’t user-fee driven but rather student-fee driven.”

Johnson County transit officials estimate 825 riders use the service during the school year. The service — which provides about 160,000 rides throughout the year — costs about $940,000 to operate.

Members of the city’s transit advisory board said figuring out how much to support the K-10 service will be a balancing act.

“It seems like there is some benefit to our community, so we don’t want to completely cut it off,” said Jane Huesmann, a member of the advisory board. “But we don’t want it to detract from what we’re trying to do locally, especially from a funding standpoint.”

Nugent said he expects elected leaders and staff members from the two counties to begin discussing possible partnerships within the next one to two months.

In other transit-related news:

l Nugent said his office has begun work to move the city’s main transfer location for the buses back to Ninth and Massachusetts streets, away from the current area in the 900 block of New Hampshire street.

Nugent said the move is needed to accommodate future development of the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets, which is slated to house a new multistory hotel/retail building.

Nugent also said the city is working to create a request for proposals that would hire a consultant to study long-term locations for a new transit hub.

As he has said before, the consultant will be expected to study sites outside the downtown area because sites that could accommodate a number of buses and provide indoor waiting room space for riders is limited in downtown.

Nugent said he expects the request for proposals be issued within the next month. He thinks the study, which likely will cost about $40,000, to be completed by mid-2013.

l City officials want to hear from residents about how a late-night bus service should operate.

The city’s 2013 budget includes $250,000 to fund a pilot program that would extend the hours of the city’s public transit system to cover the time period from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

City officials have said the service likely would be a demand-response system, which means riders would need to somehow request a ride rather than simply wait at a bus stop.

Transit officials want to hear ideas residents have for the service. The city is asking people to fill out a survey on the city’s public transit website at lawrencetransit.org.

Nugent said his office hasn’t yet developed a timeline for when the service could begin.

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

County leaders exclusive of what Baldwin, Eudora, and all other county residents think.

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chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

I imagine many of the county residents in Eudora and other cities appreciate the 825 fewer cars on K-10 during their commute. The bus service has value beyond the value it provides to an individual needing to get from point A to point B.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Danny Kaiser is a fool, like so many are at KU. These people should be fired, and others hired who have the whole community in mind.

Lawrence students need this bus, because there is no community college in Lawrence. Not all persons can go to KU, especially now that fees are sky high and people can not afford to take classes and then go into debt to pay for them, and especially because KU is so far behind in online classes.

It's time that Lawrence and the County think about a community college in Lawrence, but until that time, the bus is very, very useful and necessary.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 1 month ago

Not at all. The bus is a money pit that only teaches dependency upon the government for services and not self reliance.

If they charged what it cost to operate this bus, then no one would use it. If you or I had to fund this money pit out of our own pockets we would drop it quickly.

If you choose to be generous with your money, do it. Please don't be generous with mine.

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chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

As long as they also turn k-10 into a toll road and charge what it actually costs to maintain it. You know, we wouldn't want you to be learning dependency on the government services.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

So my post was removed for making a comment similar to what CHIBW makes in every single post. Interesting.

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Ladybug2 2 years, 1 month ago

Johnson County Community College does offer some community college classes at Centennial School in Lawrence. Go to their website and check it out.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

Why don't JOCO community college and KU contribute to the bus service, since it's their students who are primary users?

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chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

JOCO is already supported by Johnson County, and Johnson County is currently paying for the bus service. KU and Lawrence are the ones that need to step up to the plate.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

And while we're at it, send Compton the bill for moving the city bus hub away from "his" corner-- just one of the many subsidies, hidden and otherwise, that he's getting for his developments.

And who's going to pay for the repairs to the streets in that area that have been totally destroyed by the construction activity?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

They're patching the patches. It looks like a war zone.

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Joe Hyde 2 years, 1 month ago

Whatever percentage of the back-and-forth bus riders are KU students and staff involved at the Edwards Campus, or KU students/staff involved in classes at Johnson County Community College, their percentage of annual ridership fees could be paid in full by the University of Kansas directly.

Wasn't it announced yesterday that KU has received a record amount of private donations -- something like more than $150 million? Well, okay then; use less than one one-hundred fiftieth of this year's donation to help its "commuter students" get to class on time, and return home safely.

Doing this would stimulate enrollment in KU's satellite schools and very likely bring nice dividends over time, particularly from grateful graduates whom the school helped attend the courses and activities they subsequently profited from.

In other words: No need to tax all Douglas County residents. Non-KU students would merely buy a buss pass. Pay individually. And their bus pass wouldn't cost very much, not if KU students and staff are numberwise the most frequent riders.

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