Lawrence City Commission to vote on request for another transit study

A Lawrence Transit System bus stops just south of Seventh and Vermont streets, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

At their meeting Tuesday, Lawrence City Commissioners will decide whether to approve a second study to identify potential locations for a transit hub for the city’s bus service.

Bids for the study are expected to be $50,000 or less, most of which would be covered by a grant, according to a city staff memo provided to city commissioners. A Metropolitan Planning Organization grant would cover $40,000 of the study, and the remainder would come from transit’s 2017 operating budget.

The original study on a location for a transit hub was done in 2012, and several locations were considered and ultimately ruled out, some after vocal opposition from nearby neighborhoods. The memo notes one of the locations identified by that study — near the intersections of 21st Street and Stewart Avenue — was the best choice.

“… No location evaluated by staff has greater merit than 2021 Stewart Ave. in terms of the ability to efficiently and economically support the functionality of a transfer hub while minimizing the impact on adjacent properties and neighborhoods,” the memo stated.

The Stewart Ave. location was voted down by commissioners in 2015, and the other locations were pursued. A plan for a hub near KU Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center was abandoned last year after the city failed to win a federal transportation grant that would have covered half of the project’s cost.

Lawrence Public Transit Administrator Robert Nugent previously told the Journal-World that all options would be on the table again should the study be approved. Nugent said the new study would use the transit system’s most recent ridership data, and the goal is to have the hub be centrally located and to benefit both the University of Kansas and the city as much as possible.

Currently, the transfer location for the city’s bus operations is located in the 700 block of Vermont Street. There is no bus facility, but the site is located directly across the street from the Lawrence Public Library.

If approved, the study would be complete by the end of this year. Timing for the study is important if city leaders want to make sure a decision is made about the transit hub before a vote to renew the city’s infrastructure and transit sales tax. The tax has generated millions of dollars to support the city’s transit system, and will sunset at the end of 2018 unless residents vote to renew it.

The City Commission will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.