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City, university to explore merging of bus services

Construction of park and ride lot will be under way while study conducted

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Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger and Lawrence Mayor Boog Highberger recently signed an agreement to study the possibility of consolidating bus services. While the study is conducted, a major transit project will be under way on West Campus.

Shulenburger and Highberger signed a memorandum of understanding Feb. 10 to explore coordinating or consolidating some of the services of KU on Wheels and The T bus services. One of the driving factors of the study is the shared desire of KU and Lawrence to reduce parking and traffic congestion, which mirrors the function of a new $10.5 million, 1,500 space park and ride lot on west campus.

Memorandum of Understanding

The planning study set in motion by the memorandum will perform a "comprehensive operational analysis" of the current systems, the memorandum states. It will also provide alternatives for a coordinated system, identify efficiencies of such a system and provide an estimated budget for the operational costs. It will also identify funding options at the local, university, state and federal levels.

Park and ride art
To see an artist's rendering of the new park and ride lot on west campus, visit October 10, 2005 issue of the Oread.

The city and KU are splitting the costs of the study and will coordinate throughout the study process. The goal for completion is Sept. 1. Neither party will be required to implement any of the suggestions made in the study.

To make any coordination or consolidation work, more buses will likely be needed.

A section of the agreement states, "the parties recognize that implementation of a coordinated and/or consolidated transit system as contemplated herein will likely require the procurement of additional buses, facilities and associated labor and equipment." It goes on to say both parties will work together to pursue federal funding for acquiring new buses or facilities.

Park and ride

While the study is being conducted, construction of the new park and ride lot will be under way. Not all details for the lot have been finalized, but they are beginning to take shape.

Donna Hultine, director of parking, said the goal is to have the lot open by the fall 2006 semester.

"We have a really aggressive schedule to be open by Aug. 1," she said.

Construction is already under way. LRM Industries of Lawrence will build the lot, and SK Design Group of Overland Park designed it.

The $10.5 million lot and associated roads will be paid for with parking funds and revenue bonds, which will be repaid with parking fees.

While the lot will help reduce the number of vehicles parking on and around campus, it hasn't been decided yet who will be required to park there.

Hultine said all students will be offered the option to park in the lot, and permits will be offered for employees when payroll deduction paperwork is distributed later this semester. Eventually, a guideline for who will be required to park in the lot will be set, Hultine said.

One possibility is limiting the number of permits for yellow parking zones, which include lots on the outlying parts of campus such as lots near Memorial Stadium, Robinson Gymnasium and the Lied Center. Some people who previously had yellow permits might be required to park in the new lot, under the plan.

Work has begun to purchase five new buses to travel between the lot and main campus. Hultine said the goal was to have buses stopping at the lot every six minutes during peak times.

"We want to have really good, frequent service to this lot," Hultine said.