If there is one thing Kansas University season ticket holder Paul Stevens has learned about Jayhawk football, it is that you don't want to be late for kickoff.
"At KU, sometimes the pre-game stuff is better than the game," Stevens said.
But Stevens and quite a few other people who relied on the shuttle service from downtown to Memorial Stadium were late for Saturday's season-opening contest, as ridership spiked with the opening of the city's new parking garage near Seventh and Vermont streets.
City officials on Monday said they're already drawing up a new game plan to serve riders for the Jayhawks' next home game on Sept. 21.
"We will put three more buses on the service for the next home game," said Robert Nugent, the city's transit administrator. "We'll get it fixed."
Stevens, a Lenexa resident and longtime KU season ticket holder, estimated that it took about an hour and 15 minutes to make the trip from Ninth and New Hampshire to the stadium. He said at the parking garage there was a line of people a half-block long on New Hampshire Street and it turned the corner and stretched for another quarter block on Ninth Street.
"We have been doing this for as many years as they have been offering it, and this was the first year there was a real line," Stevens said.
Nugent said about 2,000 people rode the shuttle service Saturday, an increase of 15 percent from last season's average. A portion of the increase can be attributed to the city opening its new parking garage near Seventh and Vermont streets and advertising it as a place to park and catch a gameday shuttle. But that likely wasn't the only factor in the increase, Nugent said.
"The new garage played a role, but the other thing is the popularity of the service is continuing to grow," Nugent said. "That's not a bad thing. People are realizing that it is free parking, and it is only a dollar to ride the bus there and back. I think most people are saying it is not worth driving around for a half-hour trying to find a place to park near the stadium."
In addition to increasing the number of buses to nine, up from six, Nugent said they'll assign specific buses to specific garages. That will cut down on the need for each bus to stop at each garage, he said.
Attendance for Saturday's game was 41,920, which is about 8,000 short of capacity.