Lawrence City Commission to consider increasing funding for Johnson County to Lawrence bus service

Bus riders heading to Johnson County Community College get on the K-10 Connector at the 19th Street and Haskell Avenue pickup spot on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016.

The future of a popular bus service between Lawrence and Johnson County may become a little bit more stable thanks to a proposed increase in city funding.

The Lawrence City Commission is set to increase local funding for the K-10 Connector bus service that provides transportation between area universities.

As part of its consent agenda Tuesday, the commission will consider approving a memorandum of understanding with the Johnson County Commission to help fund the bus service for the next four years. Funding from the city has been a point of disagreement in the past, and Johnson County officials said the multi-year agreement is a positive development.

“We’ve had a great partnership with the City of Lawrence going back to 2013,” said Josh Powers, business liaison for the Johnson County manager’s office. “And what this really does for both our jurisdictions is create some level of stability for the funding picture.”

The agreement also includes two increases in the city’s funding for the bus service. Beginning this year, the agreement increases local funding for the service from $120,000 to $135,000 per year. Beginning in 2019, the agreement ups the funding to $155,000 and maintains that level through 2021.

The K-10 Connector’s route runs along Kansas Highway 10, making stops at the University of Kansas, Johnson County Community College and KU’s Edwards Campus. Under the agreement, Johnson County agrees to continue current levels of service and maintain responsibility for all ongoing capital and operating expenses of necessary vehicles.

In 2016, Johnson County requested the city increase its funding to nearly $330,000, citing a plan had been discussed with former City Manager David Corliss to increase the funding to that level. City officials did not agree to that amount at the time, saying they wanted to know more about the route and ridership data.

Powers said the annual ridership on the route is just under 100,000, as measured by a survey completed in fall 2016. He said that previously, riders coming from Lawrence represented up to 60 percent of ridership on the K-10 Connector, but that the 2016 survey indicated that about half the riders now originate in Lawrence.

In a memo to the City Commission, city staff notes that a multi-year funding agreement will improve future planning regarding the bus service. The memo also states the proposed multi-year funding plan is contingent on sufficient funds being available and appropriated through the city’s annual budget process.

The commission will consider two other items related to public transit as part of its consent agenda:

• Consider approving the renewal of a licensing agreement that allows the Greyhound bus line to use the city’s right-of-way on Seventh Street, directly north of the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. Library Director Brad Allen said the library has been in contact with the city and is OK with the stop continuing on in that location. Greyhound will pay the city $500 per month compensation and reimburse the city up to $1,500 for the installation of a bench, according to a memo to the commission.

• Consider approving an amendment to the public transit service contract with MV Transportation, which operates the city’s bus system. The amendment would increase the annual compensation provided to MV Transportation by $227,472 and was anticipated in the transit department’s 2018 budget to compensate for service increases, according to a memo to the commission.