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Sound Off: How much does the city’s transit system collect in fares compared with how much it costs to operate the system?

According to the city’s 2012 budget, the public transit fund is expected to collect $255,000 in revenue from fares and bus pass fees. The budget calls for $3.1 million in expenses. The fund’s other major sources of revenue include a pair of voter-approved sales taxes.

Comments

alcoholbliss 1 year, 10 months ago

Funny, I never hear comments as to why sewers don't work, turds are not being processed correctly, or why we can't get rid of roads and maintenance and go back to gravel and dirt so that we don't have to use subsidy, tax funds. Sure those two items might not pay for themselves, but lets see how far we get with out them when the majority of society needs and use them more than they do an M-Tee bus system roaming around town.

The bus system benefits so few for the cost, it is more of a want by the whinny minority more than it is a real necessity for the majority in this town.

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 10 months ago

How much does the city’s transit system collect in fares compared with how much it costs to operate the system?"

Is it about the same ratio as what we pay for the sewer system?

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beatrice 1 year, 10 months ago

How much do roads generate in revenue compared to how much they cost to build them?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

Very few if any public transportation systems pay for themselves.

Airplane travel us heavily subsidized and way more polluting. At least the tax dollar subsidies for the T brings some of our federal tax dollars home. And our tax dollars are keeping employees working thus keeping tax dollars working the in the local economy.

Roads and cars are by far the largest budget items ever..... look how many vehicles have only one person. All of those cars are making more pollution than a few buses.

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booyalab 1 year, 10 months ago

I always laugh when I see a huge exhaust-spewing bus driving with one person in it. Imagine the outcry if that polluting monster was privately owned, except we could at least count on it having more passengers or going out of business.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 10 months ago

Buses for the poor, tifs for the rich. Even trade.

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Agnostick 1 year, 10 months ago

JackMcKee (anonymous) replies…

"I think we should have public transportation, but I disagree that the shape it should take is 20,000 pound mostly empty buses cruising around the city wasting $2 million + per year."


In four or five years of watching the back-and-forth arguments on this topic, this is the most sane, logical approach I've read.

People will think emotionally about something if you attack them emotionally, with purely emotional arguments. Go back through the arguments of a certain segment of the populace, and you'll read lots of insults, mudslinging... and the old standby, labeling anyone who favors public transportation as a "liberal"... 'socialist"... "communist" etc.

This is the only time I can every remember someone saying, "Let's try a different form of public transportation." Up to now, it's always been a choice between "We need a viable bus system" and "We can't afford to buy free bus rides for liberal freeloaders. Make 'em all walk!"

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budwhysir 1 year, 10 months ago

So I am confused. Do these numbers prove that the bus company is a money making proposition? Or do these numbers reflect excessive spending coupled with poor to dismal revenue incomes?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

This is an excellent concept:

"The things is, the city could give KU a million bucks a year to subsidize KU on wheels for students, then spend another million on bike lanes each year. And we would be ahead. We could throw in funding for our end of the I-70 commuter route and STILL be ahead.

We would have a functional bus system and safe bike routes."

It would likely require more than a million dollars a year to turn the entire system over to KU on wheels. There is a partnership currently in place that is probably working well for both as we speak. Suggest speaking with certain members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, Dave Corliss, Mike Dever and Danny Kaiser of KU.

The variety of bus sizes within the T was a practical and smart choice no question about it.

Several more 10' bike lanes would be far more fiscally attractive than more roads. The short and long term costs would be about the size of a fly on an elephants butt.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

One of the great aspects of public transportation is the wage and benefits. This keeps working people off Social Services,food on the table and sustaining themselves. More than can be said about most other business operations in Lawrence,Kansas.

Cars are billion $$$$$ budget items.

Some car owners are begging for another $200-$300 millon tax dollar handout. The SLT. Then comes millions upon millions more for maintaining the roadway.

Cars cost taxpayers tons of tax dollars.

How about that high dollar Global Warming/Climate Change that lots of gasoline use is assisting?

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werekoala 1 year, 10 months ago

From what I understand, City Hall claims that they can't get federal funding for a paratransit system (rides for the disabled, etc) if they don't have a regular transit system running in parallel.

Okay, I get that, but I wonder if we'd actually forgo the money and still save if we just fully funded the paratransit.

And yes, I think we have an obligation to help out the poorest among us get back on their feet. But mass transit only works if you are transporting masses of people from one locale to another (K-10 Connector). Otherwise, you're just running a mostly-empty bus from subdivision to subdivision.

It would be nice if Lawrence had been laid out in a new-urban style. And I encourage that sort of development in the future. But banging our heads against the wall of facts just embarrasses everyone.

Fact is, given the current layout of Lawrence (low density residential, commercial, and employment areas distributed by a car-centered road network) the idea that we can run giant buses through town to take big groups of people from one location to another is ridiculous.

If we want to be truly innovative, we should stop trying to impose New York or Chicago-style transit systems (and pizzas, haha!) on a sprawling Midwest town. Instead, I think we should have a more responsive system in which you go to a transit stop, and then tell it your destination. A computer dispatches cars or vans in response to real-time demand.

You could combine this with fixed routes as well, in response to consistent demand, and scale it so you are only running the buses/cars needed. Also, smaller vehicles could be exclusively powered by electricity, meaning less pollution/noise/road damage, etc.

I strongly support public transportation in concept. But I strongly disagree with the idea that if we pour $3.1million down a rathole, so long as we have pretty buses rolling around the streets, there is no need for us to re-examine our decisions in light of the facts.

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Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

"There is no reason for people to be opposed to public transportation in Lawrence."

Actually. at least one people (aka a person) is opposed to public transportation. Public transportation is one means used to induce reliance on government and not on one's self. A perfect example of this happened some years back in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina was a mid-sized storm that was made much worse by the low level of the area and poorly built and maintained structures meant to protect those low areas. It was a disaster waiting to happen. But what made it a tragedy was that too many people there had come to rely heavily on the government and not themselves. They could ride the bus, so they needed no car. Had they not been trapped by government reliance, most of the people that died could have gotten into their cars (had they owned one instead of relying on government busses) and drove 50 miles north and never been in danger, much less killed. How many people died in their own cars as they fled New Orleans? Maybe 3 or 4 from freak circumstances?

At it's core, public transportation is part of what is destroying Americans. In the end, it isn't about money, it's about watching our country degrade into a nation of parasites that exist only because the host allows them to. That is a sad thing to watch.

The six lattes the T costs me per year is trivial, but watching people surrender their ability to move about freely is horrifying.

I realize some people have physical ailments that prevent them from driving and we do need a system to help those. OTOH every time an able-bodied person steps onto a bus or a train simply because they can't be bothered to own their own means of transportation, another little piece of what made Americans great disappears.

So you are wrong. There are reasons for people to be against public transportation, and one of those reasons is based on philosophy and not trite matters like money.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

Brownback added a tax increase on each vehicle at time of each motorized vehicle registration renewal. $4.00 each

It's called a DMV modernization fee = the new $40,000,000 computer that has been malfunctioning.

A fee is a tax simple as that. Look for more tax increases hidden behind the word fee or rate.

It has been estimated that the cost of simply owning a vehicle is at $8,000 -$15,000 annually.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 months ago

"You might follow up with another question...how much does the city spend on roads/bridges and parking lots/enforcement. " Snow removal,road maintenance etc etc etc etc

Billions of $$$$$

Cars are billion $$$$$ budget items.

Some car owners are begging for another $200-$300 millon tax dollar handout. The SLT. Then comes millions upon millions more for maintaining the roadway.

I say put this money into public education.

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 10 months ago

I voted against increased funding for the T once and would love to do it again

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Patricia Davis 1 year, 10 months ago

It is time to review the T. With so many demands for so few resources, we must do what is efficient and wise. I suspect this will become more clear when Brownback's tax cuts come home to roost. Do we want better schools are do we want emT buses riding about town. And believe me I see empty buses.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 10 months ago

Here we go again. Our annual ridership is about 80,000 (a little over 220 a day). Our annual cost minus revenue is about $2.8 M. That runs out to about $35 per ride. Of course some amount of funding to avoid pollution is warranted. That said there does appear to be room to argue about return on investment. If we really believed about the pollution and climate change thing we would do some selective mandating. WE should make downtown Lawrence an auto free zone (or maybe just charge a large tax to drive there - think London). Parking lots at KU and maybe a new one east of town would serve as focal points for buses to move people into and out of downtown. Such an approach would quickly make the bus system very efficient and would contribute immeasurably to an avoidance of carbon emissions from vehicles. Of course such an approach might drive downtown business to other venues but if we really believe all our arguments about this system and the need for out of the box thinking to accommodate climate change we should embrace such an approach.

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kusp8 1 year, 10 months ago

We can all agree the 8% is less than ideal. We can all agree 50% is unattainable due to the limited population size of Lawrence. We can also agree the T should be more based on a model like KU's, either current or former, where there's a pass you can purchase per year or a flat $1 fee per ride.

I do agree society should attempt to help those who need assistance. However, the debate is at what level do we determine the assistance is more than just the ethical amount required and moves towards the spoon-feeding. This I don't know, and I suspect is the root of the debate above. However, during this debate let us refrain form personal, ad hominem, attacks. Let us scaffold off of each other's discussions and have a more fruitful conversation.

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Tomato 1 year, 10 months ago

How does the KU bus budget factor into the overall city bus budget now that they have integrated and KU students ride for free (and I assume pay a hidden mandatory transit fee as part of their student fees)?

I take the bus across town through KU regularly. Mostly students and KU employees ride the bus - as one would expect in a college town.

It seems like the most sensible system would be a university-dedicated system, with a hub for most/all buses at KU and mandatory student fees to cover the expenses and a fee for any non-student. Then KU could raise parking fees and encourage students to ride their bus system, since they already pay for it - maybe even siphon an additional fee from each parking pass for the bus system.

If the numbers above are the real picture - and the city's out of pocket expense is 2.8 million dollars, that seems egregious. But I don't know what it's worth for the city to keep the KU riders off the roads.

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rockchalker52 1 year, 10 months ago

When I was an innocent lookin' lad, I used to be a spy for the Lawrence Bus Company. Duane hired me to hop on the bus & ride until the driver booted me. You weren't s'posed to be able to go more than one complete route around town without paying another fare (25 cents). I was also on the lookout for how many quarters went into the driver's pocket instead of the fare gizmo. I got the boot after one round, but the driver had jacked about a buck-fifty along the way. Turns out I wasn't the only one to get the boot. Duane didn't miss much.

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David Dunlap 1 year, 10 months ago

A lot of whining and no solutions on the board again. Sorry if I missed it, but did anyone suggest advertising on the sides of the buses like every other city in the world does. Ad revenue could reduces taxpayer costs.

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 10 months ago

There is no reason for people to be opposed to public transportation in Lawrence. One last time, the buses are only empty at the beginning or end of a route. Lots of people, many people, ride the bus as it is convenient and economical. True enough seniors do get a discount, but seniors get a discount in a lot of places. Why not complain because those over sixty-two pay less for a movie ticket than others? Or get a ten percent discount of a lot of restaurants?

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Eride 1 year, 10 months ago

Does the $255,000 include the money provided by KU (aka the subsidization of the system by KU students)?

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1southernjayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

$3,100,000 in expense minus 255,000 in revenue divided by say 30,000 families in Lawrence (just estimated) = $100 per family to support the T. Thank you, City of Lawrence, for taking $100 from my family so people who use the bus don't have to pay for its full cost.

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Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

I could have buy half a tank of gas for my cut of the taxes we are wasting on those empty landwhales.

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sierraclub 1 year, 10 months ago

Lawrence, like any responsible city, does need public transportation. But, do we really need those large $500,000 buses? Seems to me that a smaller bus or minivan would do so much better.

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RoeDapple 1 year, 10 months ago

Spend $11 for $1 return. That just seems so . . . Lawrence.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 10 months ago

I have no problem with my tax dollars being used to fund a public transportation system. However, the amount of the subsidy seems quite high. I know nothing about pubic transportation systems but it would seem it could be made a little more efficient.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 10 months ago

I don't get it. Yes, an entrepreneur has the idea. Yes, he/she needs a bank or investor (regulated by the government, so the idea won't get ripped off) to get the idea off the ground. Yes, the idea won't be successful if the consumers (protected by the government from really dangerous ideas) don't want it. Yes, the entrepreneur will need to hire hard working trustworthy people (most educated by the government) to help make the idea. Yes the entrepreneur will need roads to transport his/her idea, either real roads or the internet (both created by the government). The entrepreneur will also need a place of business (protected by police and fire fighters, so he/she doesn't have to pay so much in insurance). It seems to me we should all be working together, except the new conservatives think it's all about "Me, ME, ME!!!!!" It's all about the entrepreneur who has used all of this and us to be a "self made" success. They have the right to keep all the money, because it was their idea. Of course, their idea would be nothing without the rest. This is not redistribution of money.

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toe 1 year, 10 months ago

A minivan is the only size vehicle needed. Buy local.

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RoeDapple 1 year, 10 months ago

The wealthy do not create jobs, it's true. But without wealthy backers it's unlikely consumers will cr@p a job out of thin air.

The Ogle family operated Lawrence Bus Company for 40 years. After running in the red for the last 8 years they wisely chose to shut it down. That kind of wisdom doesn't get voted into city management.

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 10 months ago

Clapping, you go tomatogrower! You have the right of it.
I ride the T frequently and have never been the only passenger on it. It has always been full. The riders seem to like to talk to each other and the driver. They have some interesting things to say. I have thought about this, does riding the bus tend to make people want to interact or it is that those who want to be around others gravitate to the bus. I know my limitations and the bus is a godsend to me in getting around. There are also riders to are going to work or getting off from work. I got caught up in the parade re-route and the T people went out of their way to make sure I got home okay. I ended up being driven to my front door as the re-route was four blocks from where I would normally get off. I have found the drivers to be so helpful in making sure people get where they are going and make their connections. Thanks to all the great drivers!

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tomatogrower 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow! Get rid of the buses and can you imagine what the city would be like during the day when KU is in session? Put hundreds of more cars on the roads? Wow, that would be just peachy keen. And imagine all those parents who work who would have to find babysitters to get their older kids who don't have cars to places. I know when our son learned to use the bus it was a god send to our busy schedule. And we didn't have to buy him a car as quickly when he turned 16. Saved us money. And before you call us deadbeats, we have plenty of money, and we shop locally, so we do pay our fair share. I suppose you think all those poorly paid people who wait on you at the retail stores, who can't afford cars, go out of town to buy groceries, and never pay any sales tax, so they don't contribute either? Right?

Are you willing to pay even more for your clothes and food, so the businesses will pay enough for them to own a car? If you are an investor, are you willing to take less profit, so the employees can own a car? Didn't think so. More conservative "I want my cake and eat it too. Me, me, me" stuff.

I am really sick and tired of the way workers are treated. According to the new conservatives they had nothing to do with making a business successful. As if, Ford, went out and built all those cars by himself. As if, the members of the Walton family ring up your groceries. As if, Donald Trump works the desks of his hotels. Can you see him cleaning the rooms? Where would any boss be without good workers, yet the conservatives look down on these people. They don't want to pay them enough to buy cars, yet they don't want to pay taxes for bus systems. Greedy, mean nasty people. That's how I see the new conservatives. Even the moderate Republicans had compassion and cared about their fellow citizens. The new conservatives would bring back slavery. The new conservatives wouldn't even bring back company towns, because it would cut into their profits. That's what life is all about to them - money. If I wasn't so disgusted I would pity them.

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JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 10 months ago

Too many commenters here are tea party nut jobs who should move to Texas or Arizona. Lawrence is a progressive city.

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Patricia Davis 1 year, 10 months ago

It is time to revisit the city' entire mass transit program. We can do better than this. Simply doing what we have done in the past is shown to be grossly inefficient. Every time I see an EmpT I cringe. We have very smart people in this town. Please engage brains before engaging more Ts. So agree about jafs grid suggestion. When we travel we use mass transportation. Usually on time, ridiculously affordable and efficient. Instead of droning on about the waste of money, cant' we actually make something better?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 10 months ago

Take a look at the people involved with every tax increase in Lawrence. Not surprisingly they are the same people every time. "LeAdership Lawrence" likes to give them awards. This is one of the most corrupt cities in the Midwest.

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Kirk Larson 1 year, 10 months ago

While they don't make up all the difference there are other benefits accrued by public transportation: people who don't/can't drive or who can't afford a car can get to work and be productive, less traffic on the road, less demand locally for gas, and so on.

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kernal 1 year, 10 months ago

Okay, so we do away with the T. The city is approving student type apartments all over Lawrence which requires students to either have their own car, walk 5 to 6 miles one way or take the bus. They could ride a bike to campus, but that's hard to do in the winter and we don't have enough safe bike lanes. We know how much drivers and cyclists love bikes on major streets. Plus there's the arguments about more cars on the road, adding more parking at KU and downtown, traffic congestion and affecting air quality in the summer.

How about the people who use the bus to get to work? Not everyone can afford car payments, maintenance and insurance if they have a minimum wage job, kids, health insurance, etc. Not everyone can drive due to handicaps, but they can work and want to work. If you want to do away with the T, we can always put those folks back on welfare, food stamps and other tax payer paid programs.

Point is, there are more good reasons to keep the T rather than let it go.

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tange 1 year, 10 months ago

As much as I value public transit for those who must rely on it, the current service leaves much to be desired. As a student, decades ago, I valued my KU Bus Ticket; one-time purchase, unlimited access. The bus was always on schedule, and I never had to wait more than a few minutes, when I was. Hops between stops were efficient and brief, and I never felt limited in my ability to reach city destinations. Flash forward to the city's somewhat less nimble system, and one has to plan cross-city trips an hour or more in advance, with excruciating lags during which the bus doesn't move at all.

/ apparently, with meter still running

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RoeDapple 1 year, 10 months ago

Survivalist is so 1970 . . . "Prepper" is the new survivalist.

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gccs14r 1 year, 10 months ago

It would help if they wouldn't put the busses away at 8 p.m. No second-shift person can use the system, nor can those who would like to go to dinner and a movie, or out for drinks.

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skinny 1 year, 10 months ago

Time to do away with the transit system here in Lawrence. It is not even close to paying for itself and I am tired of seeing empty buses rolling about town!

Lawrence is a smalll enuigh town you can walk whereever you need to go!

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RoeDapple 1 year, 10 months ago

"I wish you'd just move off to your survivalist bunker already and leave the rest of us to a nice society."

"nice society" Where everyone else pays to transport, feed, house, cloth, insure, protect, . . . those who won't.

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RoeDapple 1 year, 10 months ago

The old 11 mph F-350 looks better every day.

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sourpuss 1 year, 10 months ago

No public transit system is self-supporting. I know some of you don't believe in the greater good, but I wish you'd just move off to your survivalist bunker already and leave the rest of us to a nice society.

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Lee Eldridge 1 year, 10 months ago

The problem is that the public is sold a bill of goods on projects like this. The initial supporters say "It will pay for itself in X years!" Then the rest of us are left paying for it for the rest of our lives.

If the public had been told that by 2012 the bus system would only be generating revenues equal to about 10% of the cost, would the public have supported it? I doubt it.

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darthvedder 1 year, 10 months ago

Not everything in American society has to be filtered through a profit/loss statement. Public infrastructure, including public transportation, is the moral and fiscal responsibility of any local government of significant size. Governments are for the populace, the entire populace. No human being in the history of humankind has ever accomplished what they've accomplished, gained what they've gained, or acquired what they've acquired through their individual efforts alone. The notion that any member of a society should not have to contribute to that society in a way which may not benefit themselves directly is narrow and narcissistic at best. The one quarter of one percent of the local sales tax you would save by not having to pay for public transportation is not going to buy you that jet ski/hair transplant/stripper-wife you think you so desperately need.

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LogicMan 1 year, 10 months ago

That's 8.2258% if your calculator is broken. That's just plain pathetic compared to the 50% or more standard for such. Quite an embarrassment for the City and its leaders and administration. What would a wise person do?

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kansasredlegs 1 year, 10 months ago

The M-T, Celebrating 10 years, 10,000 riders, and over $25M of wasted tax dollars. It would have been cheaper to contract with a private taxi company for those needing a ride.

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mikekt 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes, it's busses are a large expense in support of commerce, KU, quality of life, etc., that pays for itself in the finality of it all. Hard to be a college town without busses?! Where's Harry Potter when you need him? Anybody for magical brooms? Might be a better idea ( Ha,Ha,Ha ) to get the buss riders ( all? ) used cars and fund their gasoline, auto insurance & repairs so that they won't be out of gas, broke down or driving uninsured & hit somebody else? Just a thought,....or whatever,... that won't happen in my lifetime & probably for the better! Maybe we could turn Iowa St. & Mass. St. into toll roads that could pay for the busses? Right?!?! I think that they ( LJW ) have probably run out of political stuff or local good news to cover.

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thuja 1 year, 10 months ago

U.S. Military budget? Drug War budget?

Results?

Small pond. Look at Ocean.

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bmelm 1 year, 10 months ago

Ouch. Might as well buy a new car for everyone that rides the bus instead.

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