Chuck France/University Relations

A line of students waits to board a KU on Wheels bus near Lippincott Hall. KU's transit system, coordinated with the city of Lawrence, has received a regional award for increased ridership.

The best bus around

KU, city transit rewarded for increased ridership, named system of the year

If it seems like a lot more people are riding the bus, or waiting for a bus on Jayhawk Boulevard lately, that’s because there are. And you’re not the only one who’s noticed.

KU’s bus system, KU on Wheels, in cooperation with the city of Lawrence, recently was presented the Federal Transit Association Ridership Award for the largest percentage increase in ridership among urban transit providers in Kansas. The city’s transit system, the T, was also presented the Kansas Public Transit Association System of the Year Award.

Both awards were presented earlier this month at the KPTA annual conference in Hutchinson.

“This award represents the best that Kansas has to offer in public transit,” said R.E. “Tuck” Duncan, executive director of the Kansas Public Transit Association. “Lawrence, by voting for sustained funding and through its cooperation with the University of Kansas, deserves recognition as Kansas' best transit system in 2010.”

In 2009, fixed-route ridership on the T and KU on Wheels, including Park and Ride Express routes, was 974,125. That was also the year the city and the university began working more closely to coordinate transit services. The first route operated jointly by the two systems, Route 11, launched in August 2009. Ridership for the T increased 19.9 percent from 2008 to 2009.

The increase followed a trend of more people taking the bus. In 2008, KU went to a fare-free transit system, in which students paid a fee up front, then rode by showing a KU Card. Ridership increased 138 percent from September 2007 to September 2008. Faculty, staff and students can ride any KU or T fixed route bus for free by showing a valid KU Card.

The collaboration between city and university helped earn the regional recognition.

“The FTA Region VII Office is proud to award its Regional Ridership Award to the city of Lawrence and University of Kansas coordinated transit system,” said Mokhtee Ahmad, FTA regional administrator. “The city of Lawrence and University of Kansas coordinated transit system has proven that public transportation is vital to the Lawrence community.”

The FTA’s Region VII covers Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.

The T and KU on Wheels provide a number of public transportation services to the community in addition to bus service. SafeRide and SafeBus offer late night rides to students to reduce drinking and driving, and JayLift Paratransit provides services for faculty, staff and students with disabilities. The Park and Ride bus system provides service from a parking lot on west campus to stops across the main campus.

Danny Kaiser, assistant director of Parking and Transit, said the statewide and regional recognition of Lawrence and KU’s efforts was appreciated.

“It is truly rewarding to have your peers from around the state recognize the successes we have had in transit here in Lawrence and the University of Kansas,” said Kaiser. “The best part is that we have so much more yet to accomplish in our coordination efforts.”

For more on KU on Wheels, visit

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