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Transit plans on a roll

A KU bus enters downtown headed for a stop for passengers near Ninth and Massachusetts streets Friday. Public meetings begin this week for the latest recommendations for consolidating and possibly adjusting transit services involving the Kansas University and city bus services.

Photo by Mike Yonder
A KU bus enters downtown headed for a stop for passengers near Ninth and Massachusetts streets Friday. Public meetings begin this week for the latest recommendations for consolidating and possibly adjusting transit services involving the Kansas University and city bus services.


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Transit systems increase joint efforts

Local transit systems are looking to work more closely to provide service to people in Lawrence. A new route would allow more people to have access to the services.

Local transit systems are looking to work more closely to provide service to people in Lawrence. A new route would allow more people to have access to the services.

Transit open houses

The Lawrence Transit System and KU Parking & Transit have scheduled open houses to explain recommended changes to transit routes, gauge public reaction and compile suggestions before preparing for implementation.

The schedule:

  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, Indoor Aquatic Center, 4706 Overland Drive.
  • 6 p.m. Thursday, Building 21, Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper.
  • 11 a.m. Friday, Community Building, 115 W. 11th St.
  • 6 p.m. Jan. 25, Prairie Park Nature Center, 2730 Harper St.
  • 4 p.m. Jan. 26, Alderson Auditorium, Kansas Union, 1301 Jayhawk Boulevard.
  • 4 p.m. Jan. 27, Lawrence Visitor Center, 402 N. Second St.
  • 11 a.m. Jan. 28, Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 W. 27th St.

Transit officials are gearing up for a second round of coordination between bus systems serving Lawrence and Kansas University, striving once again to boost convenience, trim waste and, eventually, add more riders.

All without spending any more money.

"We want to be more efficient," said Robert Nugent, the city's transit administrator. "We want to use our resources wisely. Any time you make changes, you want to increase the potential for more ridership. This gives us that potential."

With that goal in mind, officials with both systems are preparing to take a series of recommended system changes to the public for review.

Some riders would see their routes redirected, either to speed service or to gain more riders. Others would find themselves calling ahead 24 hours in advance to schedule rides on smaller van-like vehicles dispatched to provide "curb-to-curb" service.

And by the time the city's new vehicles start rolling off assembly lines and into the municipal transit fleet — three large 40-foot-long hybrid-powered buses could be ready within 18 months — such vehicles could even have a fresh look, one that reflects the cooperation between systems serving the city and KU campus.

The T, theoretically, could find itself depicted in KU's pervasive Trajan font.

"We're thinking about a branding scheme that would be complementary to KU's," Nugent said, emphasizing that such discussions were in the early stages. "If we're buying new vehicles, we'll probably want them to match up better than they do now."

Together, the two systems accommodate about 2.7 million boardings annually, of which 2.3 million are attributed to the KU system and about 400,000 are credited to the T.

Those lines would continue to blur, however, as the two systems establish combined routes. The systems already operate one combined route, and among the changes recommended for implementation — perhaps as early as Aug. 1 — would be a second.

The new route, which would be known as Route 12, would start at the area of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive, near Free State High School and Walmart. From there it would go south on Wakarusa to Bob Billings Parkway, then head east to the KU main campus, where riders could transfer to other routes.

Also recommended: dropping fixed-route bus service in North Lawrence and during off-peak periods in an area generally north of Sixth Street, between Wakarusa and Iowa Street. Instead, residents would be able to call ahead to arrange "curb-to-curb" service, an option that would be expected to increase usage and interest in such areas.

"It's an effort to get more into the neighborhoods," Nugent said.

Danny Kaiser, assistant director of KU Parking & Transit, said that such offerings could help draw more people into using the system — perhaps even enough to justify restoring fixed-route service in the future.

In the meantime, the so-called "demand-response" service would allow the city to run smaller vehicles in areas where they would be more appropriate.

"We're trying to be responsive to what people have told us previously: In too many areas we have too large of vehicles running around with not enough people in them," Kaiser said.



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