Editorial: Get going on transit center

Now that the city of Lawrence has identified five potential locations for a transit center, city commissioners should move quickly to select a site and get the center built.

The transit center has been in discussion for years, but disputes over the location have derailed the project. At present, the transit center is in the 700 block of Vermont Street, across from the Lawrence Public Library. The location has no facility, was meant to be temporary and is limited in the number of buses it can support.

A transit center would improve efficiencies within the bus system by allowing for a centralized hub to support shorter routes. The transit center would allow the city to reduce all routes to 30 minutes or less.

In previous years, the city has pursued transit centers at sites near the University of Kansas campus. One site, a joint venture with KU, was abandoned after the project did not receive a federal grant that was necessary for funding. A second site was ruled out when neighboring residents complained about potential noise and traffic.

This time around, the city used a different approach, hiring consulting firm TranSystems to evaluate potential locations. TranSystems consultant Sarah Frost said potential sites were eliminated for reasons such as the cost to buy the property and difficulty of construction at the site. Frost said input gathered from the community during public meetings and through surveys also was taken into account.

The five locations selected include Vermont Street between Seventh and Eighth streets; Vermont Street between Ninth and 10th streets; the southeast corner of Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive; 1941 Stewart Ave.; and the Northeast corner of Clinton Parkway and Lawrence Avenue. All can accommodate a building that would allow riders to be inside while they wait to change buses.

Residents were able to offer input on the sites at a meeting Wednesday, and they can also complete a survey — available at the city’s website — about the locations. The survey is available through the end of the year.

Final recommendations and feedback from the public survey will be presented in January to the City Commission, who ultimately will decide when and where the transit center will be built. The city has set aside $5 million for the project.

The transit center will benefit the bus system. It has been in discussions for far too long. It’s time for the city to make the center a priority by selecting a site and getting it built.