Editorial: Best choice for transit hub
The city of Lawrence’s Public Transit Advisory Committee is right to advocate for the 1900 block of Stewart Avenue as the best site for the city’s new transit hub.
The city has been working on plans for a transit hub for years. The transit hub is a centrally located station where city bus riders can transfer to the right bus to get to their location. A transit hub will allow the city to be more efficient with bus routes, shortening both the number of routes and the time it takes to run each route.
Transportation consultants TranSystems conducted a study that identified a list of 20 possible sites for the transit hub. TranSystems next narrowed that list to five finalists and conducted an analysis of each site before identifying the top two. Those two are the 700 block of Vermont Street, where the temporary transit hub is now, and 1941 Stewart Ave., a site that is very close to a site the city chose previously but abandoned after neighbors complained.
Transit Administrator Robert Nugent presented the findings Monday to the Public Transit Advisory Committee.
“There’s not a lot of locations that can accommodate this kind of facility to begin with, so we’re going to keep coming back to the few locations that are centrally located,” Nugent said.
The City Commission has ultimate say in where the transit center will be located. Nugent said more detailed site and traffic reviews would be needed once a site is identified.
But while PTAC members did not make a formal recommendation, they did vote to accept the study and send it to the commission with a “preliminary preference” for the Stewart Avenue site because of its larger size and ability to handle additional buses.
PTAC Chair Heather Thies said the ability for the Stewart Avenue site to accommodate growth of the transit service was important. The PTAC committee also noted that secondary transfer locations could still be located downtown if the transit center were on Stewart Avenue.
The study states that the 700 block of Vermont Street would not accommodate an indoor facility or growth of the transit system.
A previous location study, conducted in 2014, recommended a location at 2021 Stewart Ave. that drew opposition from residents of the adjacent Schwegler Neighborhood. The new Stewart Avenue location, between 19th and 20th streets, is one block north of the previous one and isn’t adjacent to Schwegler.
The Stewart Avenue site is close to the University of Kansas and Lawrence’s retail-shopping corridor on South Iowa. It is a large site that accommodates the city’s needs for a transit hub while allowing the city to continue to have a strong downtown transit presence.
The City Commission should heed the advisory committee’s site preference and move quickly to finally get the long-awaited transit center established.