New process to select location for city bus station begins; public meeting Thursday

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

After an unfruitful first attempt, the process to select a location for a city bus transfer hub is starting anew.

The first public meetings as part of a new transit center location study are scheduled for Thursday. City officials said the meetings will gather feedback from residents on desired characteristics for a site.

“This is really an opportunity for us to begin the conversation about what types of amenities or factors the public thinks that we should consider as we identify and analyze locations for a bus transfer site,” Senior Transportation Planner Jessica Mortinger said.

In May, the City Commission voted unanimously to move forward with another location study for a bus hub. The study will collect public and commissioner input and identify potential locations for both a primary and secondary bus transfer hub. All but $10,000 of the $50,000 study will be paid for by a planning grant.

Mortinger said all locations will be back on the table for the new study and the public input will be used to develop criteria for the bus hub location. She said the idea is to determine what priority different factors, such as proximity to key locations and route efficiency, should have.

“The idea would be to say, what’s the community value?” Mortinger said.

The city bus service has been using what was meant to be a temporary location in the 700 block of Vermont Street as its main transfer point for years. A location study was completed in 2014, but the potential locations identified were ruled out — some after strong opposition from neighborhoods — with the exception of a site near the intersection of 21st and Iowa streets that is owned by University of Kansas Endowment.

The city’s 2018 budget allocates $500,000 toward the design of a bus transfer hub, with $4 million slated for construction of the hub in the 2019 capital improvement plan. The 2018 budget will be approved as part of the commission’s meeting Tuesday.

In addition to public and commission input, the new study will use updated information such as current ridership, traffic and demographic data to determine possible locations for a bus transfer hub or hubs. Mortinger said the study will be complete by the end of the year.

Before then, Lawrence voters will have to make a big decision regarding the future of public transit in the city. Funding for transit operations is one of three components of the 0.55 percent citywide sales tax, which voters will decide whether to renew on Nov. 7.

There will be two public input sessions Thursday where residents can provide feedback about the location of a bus transfer hub. The sessions will take place Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. at the Carnegie building, 200 W. Ninth St. An online survey will also be available on the Lawrence Listens website from Aug. 3 to Aug. 17.

Mortinger said once the criteria for the bus transfer hub are identified, additional meetings and surveys will be scheduled. The second set of public meetings is planned for the week of Nov. 13.